Full speed with the power of the sun
Curtain up for a special kind of electric car: In Aachen, Germany a team of students presented the new model of a racing car that runs on solar energy alone. The 45 people from RWTH Aachen University and FH Aachen worked for two years on the refinement of the ultra-light speedster. The “Covestro Sonnenwagen” will take part in the “World Solar Challenge 2019” scheduled in October in Australia, probably the toughest solar race in the world. On board are numerous innovative materials from Covestro, which is also the main sponsor of the project.
“We are going to back to Australia with high expectations and want to challenge the leading teams of the world from the USA, the Netherlands and Belgium”, said Markus Eckstein, First Chairman of the Sonnenwagen team. The students are well equipped: Last year, they took third place in the “European Solar Challenge” in Belgium with the predecessor model of their solar car and were voted “Best Newcomer” in Australia for the first time in 2017.
The unveiling ceremony at RWTH Aachen was also attended by the Minister President of the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, Armin Laschet, who remarked: “The solar racing car is another e-mobility product 'made in North Rhine-Westphalia' and at the same time convincing evidence of the strength of our location as a science and business hub. The fact that the 'Sonnenwagen Aachen' team is the only team from Germany competing with the very best in the world in the zero-emission race across Australia illustrates the inventive spirit of North Rhine-Westphalia region. We need this on the path to a shift in mobility and for our goal of becoming a pioneer in electromobility.“
Materials for the mobility of the future
“The Sonnenwagen is an excellent demonstration of the potential of innovative and sustainable materials for the mobility of the future. On the road to achieving that, technological openness is of decisive importance, especially with regard to the drive train models,” said Dr. Markus Steilemann, CEO of Covestro. “It's great how young people here in Aachen are working together to constructively create something,” he added.
Steilemann unveiled the Sonnenwagen together with Laschet and the rectors of RWTH and FH Aachen, Professor Ulrich Rüdiger and Professor Marcus Baumann. Rüdiger declared: “RWTH is proud of the expertise and passion with which our students contribute to this exciting project. They gain fantastic experience and demonstrate the innovative strength of our university.”
FH Rector Baumann emphasized: “I am extremely pleased with this team effort, in which students from different faculties of the university, as well as students from an Aachen team, are working together with the RWTH to put an abundance of sustainable and resource-saving innovative ideas on the road.”
Lightweight and fast
The international team of students has succeeded in designing the Sonnenwagen in such a way that it weighs less than 200 kilograms and reaches top speeds of more than 140 kilometers per hour. The new model features high-quality plastics and coatings from Covestro in headlamps, steering wheel, engine and paintwork, among other things.
During the race car test, the World Solar Challenge, teams from all over the world will compete in homemade vehicles to overcome the 3,000 kilometer stretch from Darwin in the north of Australia to Adelaide in the south as the fastest – without a drop of petrol. The race has taken place every two years since 1987 and this year runs from 13 to 20 October.