Innoptus Solar Team wins Solar Challenge for second time

The Belgian team has again won the Solar Challenge, the unofficial World Solar Car Championship in Australia. The KU Leuven students crossed the line first in Adelaide, Australia, on Thursday. "I am very proud," says professor Bart Vermang (EnergyVille/UHasselt), who helped select and laminate the solar cells on the panel of the Belgian car.

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© Picture Innoptus Solar Team

Infinite wins

The industrial engineering students from KU Leuven, the Innoptus Solar Team, started Thursday morning with a 39-kilometer lead over their closest pursuers, the students from Twente in the Netherlands. They finally crossed the finish line at 10:44 a.m. local time (01:44 a.m. in Belgium) with their car Infinite, an aerodynamic, bullet-shaped design with three wheels. Their average speed was some 88 kilometers per hour. The Dutch team from Twente came in some 20 minutes later.

The participants had started their 3,021-kilometer journey last Sunday in Darwin, in the north of the country. The Belgian team had also won the previous edition of the Solar Race in 2019.

Technical innovations

According to UHasselt (imo-imomec) professor Bart Vermang, who's research team helped supply the solar panels for Infinite, in his lab in EnergyVille, the victory is a result of a lot of technical innovations. "For example, they put a fin on the car, which works more or less like a surfboard. That can surf on the wind, and since there was some wind in the last five days, they took advantage of that," he told.

Weather conditions were also closely monitored in order to make the best use of solar energy, prof. Vermang stresses. The weight of the driver was also taken into account, among other things, because that also affects speed. "Many things can go wrong, but I am very proud that we won again," concludes prof. Vermang.