DSM materials featured again in Nuna solar-powered racecar

DSM's resins were used to manufacture the Nuon Solar Team's (Delft University of Technology) Nuna7 solar-powered car, which will compete in the World Solar Challenge in October.

Related Topics:

Related Suppliers

DSM (Schaffhausen, Switzerland) reports that it is once again partnering with the Nuon Solar Team that will compete in the 12th edition of the World Solar Challenge in October 2013. This solar-powered car race is held every two years, covering 3000 km/1,864 miles through the Australian outback, from Darwin to Adelaide.

The 2013 edition of the solar race will bring new challenges, as new race regulations require significant changes in car design to enhance driver safety. These include the addition of a fourth wheel for improved stability and a larger driver’s canopy, requiring a full remodel of the vehicle and a complete change of the construction.

In the previous race, in 2011, the Nuon Solar Team from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft, The Netherlands) reached the finish line in its Nuna6 vehicle in only five days. After a head-to-head race with the Tokai Challenger from Japan, the Nuna6 ended up taking second place.

This year, the World Solar Challenge will welcome 47 teams from 26 countries to take part in the world’s largest solar vehicle event. The Nuon Solar Team is ready to take on the challenge, and with support of DSM is using state-of-the-art chemistry and technology for obtaining the best results.

In the World Solar Challenge the cars must drive the 3000 km in the shortest time possible by using available energy as efficient as possible, so they reach the finish ahead of the other participants. This means that obtaining superior aerodynamics and low vehicle weight have to go hand in hand with the use of efficient solar cells and reliable electrical systems.

Temperatures in the Australian outback can get very hot, thus it will be a challenge both for the driver and the car itself. Consequently, the Nuna7 car needs to have great dimensional stability at elevated temperatures. Meanwhile, the construction must be built in a smart way to have the best balance between weight and performance, while providing the driver an optimum safety protection in the (unlikely) event of a crash.

In the past 6 months, the Nuon Solar Team from TU Delft and innovation partner DSM set out to develop and construct the best Nuna ever with the new design requirements as starting point. DSM provided the resins and application technology used in building the framework of the car. The Nuna7 was manufactured by using innovative and sustainable styrene-free Daron resins from DSM, optimized for use with the Oxeon's (Boras, Sweden) TeXtreme spread tow carbon fiber fabrics in a vacuum bagging process. The result is a vehicle that combines light weight, great aerodynamics and dimensional stability at elevated temperatures.

In addition, several important components of the lighting and power systems were made using DSM Somos stereolithography materials for rapid prototyping technology. These components have been integrated in the car surface, contributing to the vehicle's aerodynamics. DSM has also provided the TU Delft team with prototyping expertise, improving efficiency during the design and construction phases.

DSM says the use of the styrene-free resins in combination with TeXtreme carbon fibers in a vacuum bagging process has resulted in a 30 percent increase in composite material rigidity in comparison to the Nuna6. For this, the novel resin composition, excellent adhesion between resin and carbon fiber and the elevated temperature resistance of the composite structure were instrumental.

This increase in composite material rigidity enabled vehicle that is three times stiffer, compensating for the additional torsion resulting from the fourth wheel. This is instrumental for obtaining the right aerodynamic design and minimized weight. Also, this will result in fewer vibrations, allowing the car to reach higher speeds and be more energy efficient.

Somos materials by DSM were able to produce many part options quickly for the Nuon Solar Team by using stereolithography. The team used this technology not only for their prototypes, but also for some end-use applications such as inner wheel fairings and lighting components. The speed of the stereolithography process decreased development time by 50 percent and gave project designers the ability to make multiple iterations at the same time.

Through a combination of Somos TetraShell and Somos WaterShed XC 11122, designers were able to create durable, light-weight parts used for the final production vehicle. Somos TetraShell has been used to create a honeycomb-like lattice within a part to decrease the weight (and amount of material), while maintaining theestructural integrity of the part. 

The Nuon team comprises 16 students from Delft University of Technology, all fully committed to show the possibilities of the most efficient use of durable energy and innovative technology - to inspire shaping a sustainable future.

The 12th World Solar Challenge will take place October 6-13, 2013. All teams will depart from Darwin aiming to be the first to cross the finishing line in Adelaide, 3000 km to the south. Among the contestants will be teams from all across the world, and the very latest in solar and composite technology and innovation will be on display once again.