After supporting the Belgian Solar Team as main sponsor from 2013-2018, in 2019 Punch Powertrain announced a new mode of cooperation with the Belgian Solar Team: as a Technical Sponsor. For Punch Powertrain this entails continued cooperation in terms of technology and project management, as well as access to the company’s test track and state-of-the art testing facilities.
Earlier this year the company passed the torch of name sponsor to Agoria, renaming the team from Punch Powertrain Solar Team to Agoria Solar Team. Although the partnership has taken a different form, Punch Powertrain continues its coaching and technical support. What does this entail?
Coaching & project support
Every 2 years a new team is formed, which builds on the knowledge and experience of the previous teams in order to achieve their end goal: compete for victory at the world championship for solar powered vehicles: the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia. Planning and project management of this large venture are some of the aspects in which Punch Powertrain supports the team.
After the entire project trajectory is stipulated, various vehicle concepts are created and the most successful concept is selected. During various stages of this process the team has access to Punch Powertrain experts and regular technical system reviews take place. During such a review the team presents their concept, ideas and questions in a specific field, such as, for example, electronics or mechanics. At Punch Powertrain side, a team of specialists, dedicated to this topic is formed, which provide feedback and suggestions.
Technical & testing facilities
During the entire development stage of the solar vehicle, extensive testing is required, for which Punch Powertrain offers its testing facilities, equipment and expertise.
In the first stage the vehicles of the previous teams are tested, in order to analyze various aspects of their performance. The gathered data helps identify the needed alterations and the best performing new vehicle concept.
The newly developed vehicle also requires various rounds of testing, as it contains complex subsystems, such as electronics and latest generation of solar panels. In addition, it often consists of exotic components, which are custom produced and are not yet road tested.
The climate chamber of Punch Powertrain allows the team to simulate the equivalent of the entire race under Australian weather conditions (temperature and air humidity), in just a few hours. The additional “shaker test” subjects the components to the vibrations they will endure over the entire duration of the race. This test is crucial for confirming the vehicle’s durability or pin pointing areas of improvement. In the stage of road tests, the team can call upon the company’s 800m long testing track in Brustem.
Hyper Efficient Powertrain
Solar powered vehicles are actually electric vehicles as they draw their energy from a battery pack which in turn is charged by photovoltaic solar cells. In a competition at the highest level, the vehicles are designed to have the lowest possible drag while also having a very efficient system to convert the energy into propulsion with minimal losses. The electric drivetrain of the solar car runs at an efficiency of 96-97%! Competitions such as these help to push the boundaries of technology and show what is possible. In the future we may see electric cars on the road that take some of the innovations to their advantage as well.
Solar Team community
As each 2 years a new team of about 20 members is formed, many members of previous teams have meanwhile entered the corporate life. However, many remain involved with the team and offer support to its newest members. Punch Powertrain has a long standing tradition of Solar Team alumni joining the company and of facilitating knowledge sharing between scholars and corporate community.