Lengau Logo+UFS
 

Aim: Designing, building, and using a solar-based electric vehicle (EV) for Team UFS to participate in events and challenges around ‘green’ energy and relevant technologies.

Project Motivation

The aim of this project is to build capacity for and develop a solar-powered vehicle (or electric vehicle – EV), and subsequent participation in the 2022 Sasol Solar Challenge, an international solar car challenge from Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa, to be held during September 2022.

Recent developments at the University of the Free State (UFS) have resulted in capacity to establish this project.  These developments include research on photovoltaic technologies (solar cells) in the Department of Physics – a well-established leader in the field of surface and material sciences, as well as established capacity in the field of photoluminescence and nanomaterials (nanomaterials in energy storage).  Additionally, the UFS has expanded into the field of engineering with the establishment of the Department of Engineering Sciences (EnSci).  The newly established department is building capacity in green and sustainable engineering, of which this project forms a central area, i.e., the design, construction, and racing of a branded solar-powered car. 

The UFS also wishes to become a strong proponent in the development and utilisation of green energy, as can be seen in the implementation of relevant technologies on its various campuses.  Thus, for the UFS to be recognised in this research area, it is important to participate in related ‘green’ events, where staff and students can build their capacity in terms of practical knowledge by building participation equipment such as the solar car.  This project spans the disciplines of automotive, mechanical, metallurgical, electrical, electronic, and software engineering, and can therefore be utilised by students for research projects and qualifications in related fields of study within the different departments at the UFS.  This project can then also become a strong base for research and development, student training, and capacity building in all technological fields, which can promote development for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Objectives

Outcome 1 of the project is to build a solar-powered vehicle robust enough to complete the estimated distance of 2 500 km during the 2022 Sasol Solar Challenge. As a first-time entry, the focus will be on completing the full distance without breakages, and to accumulate as much knowledge and information as possible.

Outcome 2 of the project will be to establish capacity in the students and staff through acquired practical knowledge on the management, design, construction, and actual racing of solar-powered vehicles. This capacity will form the basis for participation in future projects and event competitions.

Project Layout and Management

The project is a multidepartment initiative hosted by the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

The composition of the project team will consist of a selection of core staff, with additional capacity implemented on a dynamic basis as necessitated by the project requirements. This includes training of staff and students, capacity building of identified candidate engineers, interfacing with the UFS divisions of Instrumentation and Electronics to implement or manufacture relevant research and development components, approaching outside consultants, and finally, staffing for marketing and outreach programmes.

Departments and staff currently involved include:

Electronics
Instrumentation
Physics

Engineering Sciences
Geography
Computer Science and Informatics 

Current Developments

Final preparation of the EV, with on-road testing to commence as soon as the relevant preparations have been completed.

Logistical planning for participation during the 2022 Sasol Solar Challenge.

Continuous updates on various social media platforms.

Solar Car | Ilanga Cup

Sasol | Solar Challenge 

 
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BLOEMFONTEIN CAMPUS FACULTY CONTACT

Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531
E:vdberge@ufs.ac.za

QWAQWA CAMPUS FACULTY CONTACT

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284
E:naturalscienceqq@ufs.ac.za

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