The Belgium-based “Innoptus Solar Car Team” is composed of talented engineering students who have made a significant mark in the world of solar car racing. Their latest Solar Car, the “Infinite”, has shown the team’s engineering and design innovations in the solar car world. This contributed to their victory in the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
About the Car
The “Infinite” stands as the tenth Belgian Solar Car and is among the most advanced Solar Cars in the world. It’s built with an ultra-lightweight and rigid carbon fiber frame, aerodynamic design, and an in-house built motor with an efficiency of 98.3%. It features three wheels, with two at the front and one at the back, a design choice that contributes to its aerodynamic efficiency. Weighing in at 160 kg (without a pilot) it has a top speed of 170 km/h while being covered with 257 silicon cells, it has 4m² of solar area, providing a total of 1250 Watts for a battery with 900 km of range. Very impressive specification for a Solar Car.
One of the most innovative aspects of the “Infinite” is its rotating fin, which was designed to harness the notorious Australian crosswinds (which can exceed speeds of 60 km/h). The fin is a symmetrical foil, using an angle of attack 5॰-10॰ less than directly facing the wind to propel the car forward.
As the angle of attack relative to the wind increases, the drag increases. At the same time, the wing produces “lift” which contributes to the forward component of the car. At the right angle of attack, the wing produces enough lift relative to its drag to have a net positive forward component. At the same time, the lateral wind component adds pressure to the outside wheels.
This innovation provides a boost of power for the Australian Outback’s extreme winds. The fin, located on the top of the canopy, can also be retracted when there is no side wind, preventing any additional drag. During the 2023 World Solar Challenge, this fin gave Innoptus a significant advantage, contributing to their victory.
How can the RAHS Green Energy Team use this?
The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is known for its harsh winds. In contrast, the Solar Car Challenge which we will participate in this year will be held at a closed track, which nearly eliminates side winds. Furthermore, it is against the rules of our challenge to use non-solar energy, such as wind. Unfortunately, we will not be able to implement this new technology. However, we take these new innovations as a reminder to think outside the box and continue to push the boundaries of solar car technology.