Kogakuin University Complete the World Solar Car Challenge 2019
Supported by EKO Instruments
EKO Instruments Co., Ltd. supported Kogakuin University at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2019 (BWSC 2019) in Australia, held from the 13th to the 20th of October 2019, with a set of EKO designed and manufactured Pyranometers.
The Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge (BWSC) is one of the toughest races in the world. Held every two years since 1987, the 2019 event saw 44 teams from 21 countries attempt to travel 3,000km (about 1900 miles) in intense conditions across Australia, from Darwin to Adelaide, in solar-powered vehicles.
The race features three classes of vehicle that represent the diversity of solar EVs and their differing design philosophies. Kogakuin University participated in the ‘Challenger Class’ with their vehicle, the ‘Kute Eagle’. Vehicles in this class are single-seat, built for sustained endurance, total energy efficiency, and speed.
Despite crashing twice due to adverse weather conditions and strong winds, the Kogakuin University team finished in 5th and won the ‘CSIRO Technical Innovation Award’ for their unique hydro-pneumatic suspension system; the first time that such technology has been applied to solar-powered vehicles.
The ‘Kute Eagle’ included four key features; 1) Use of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) solar cells, commonly used in satellites, 2) Construction design that prioritised electrical power generation, 3) Biomimetic design concept; imitating the shape of an eagle’s beak for improved aerodynamics, 4) An excellent suspension system, designed for the tough conditions over the course of the race.
Why does a Solar Powered Car need Pyranometers?
A solar-powered car has only one source of power, the sun. To stand a chance of finishing, let alone winning, the BWSC teams must optimise energy management in their vehicles. In other words, they need to know precisely how much energy they are generating and using during the race. Measuring solar radiation and checking weather conditions via satellite data helps them to calculate how much energy will be generated.
At BWSC 2019 the Kogakuin University Solar Team used two EKO pyranometers; one installed on the accompanying ‘Scout car’ driving 200 to 300km ahead of the race car, and another on the ‘Strategy car’ driving close behind.
What were EKO pyranometers used for?
- Measuring Solar Irradiance
The Scout car, with a roof-mounted EKO pyranometer, drove at a consistent speed of 100km/hr, 200 to 300km ahead, measuring solar irradiance 2 to 3 hours in advance of the race car. Solar cars need to avoid clouds, sandstorms, and conditions that could block the sun, thereby decreasing power generation. In the strategy car, the race strategists compare the data from Scout car pyranometer with satellite data, and information from the race car, to determine how the solar car should drive.
- Performance checking the race car solar panels
Pyranometer data allowed the support team to evaluate the performance of the solar panels on the race car by comparing power generation against the measured solar irradiance data. In cases of physical damage to the car or solar panels, solar irradiance data from the EKO pyranometer, helped the team to quickly judge whether the car would be able to continue the race, or would need to stop for repairs.
- Solar Panel Angle Adjustment
To achieve the best possible power generation, it is necessary to angle the solar panels accurately every morning and evening. EKO pyranometers helped the team to determine the best tilt angle, maximising the charge in the cars' batteries.
- Control Stop Positioning and Charging
There were nine control stops during the race, where teams had to pause for 30 minutes for their cars to be inspected. During the stop, teams can charge the batteries. The Scout car, arriving in advance, used its EKO pyranometer to find and secure the best position for the race car, checking optimal azimuth and zenith angles to maximise solar irradiance and power generation.
Find out more
- Bridgestone World Solar Challenge: https://www.worldsolarchallenge.org/
- Kogakuin University: https://www.worldsolarchallenge.org/team/view/270-kogakuin-university-solar-team
- EKO Instruments: https://eko-eu.com/