A UKZN welcome party was on hand to cheer in the University’s Apalis solar car when it made an overnight stop in Pietermaritzburg lying in second place in the challenge class of the 2012 SASOL Solar Challenge.
The race, which began in Pretoria on 18 September, attracted 13 cars which are navigating a 5 400km circuit using only solar energy.
At the end of day seven, the UKZN team had covered 1 493 km, nearly twice the mileage of other South African university entrants.
The Apalis solar car was conceived as a final year design project in the School of Engineering under the Solar Energy Research Group (SERG) led by two Mechanical Engineering Lecturers, Mr Clinton Bemont and Ms Kirsty Veale.
The car has a lightweight carbon fibre body and chassis supported by an aluminium and chromoly sub-chassis. It is powered by 6m2 of state of the art silicon solar cells, charging a bank of 464 lithium-ion batteries, which drive a high efficiency electric motor.
SASOL Solar Challenge spokesman, Mr Winstone Jordaan, said the race featured four types of vehicle class - the three-wheel Challenge Class vehicles, the four-wheel Olympia vehicles, the Adventure Class and the Technology Demonstration Class. Each class placed special requirements on the vehicle.
Jordaan said he was impressed with the UKZN team’s efforts and felt they had a bright future in the competition. He said the calibre of the South African University entrants was generally high and looked forward to them challenging the Japanese teams in the future.
When UKZN’s car arrived at the Liberty Midlands Mall in Pietermaritzburg on an overnight stop recently, enthusiastic members of the University community – including Professor Cristina Trois, Professor Albert Modi and Professor Glen Bright – were there to show enthusiastic support.