13 / 1 / 2014
Quiet, environmentally friendly and lightning fast: solar and electrically powered vehicles are making their mark in various races right around the globe. In two of the most recent competitions, models featuring trailblazing technology from HUBER+SUHNER have emerged victorious. Thin but extremely hard-wearing RADOX cables have made a decisive contribution towards those victories thanks to their lightweight construction.
The name speaks for itself and the event could hardly be more challenging: in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, participants cover 3000 kilometres across the Australian desert in one week at the wheels of their racing cars – using nothing but solar power. The team from the Aurora Vehicle Association has participated successfully in every event since 1987. The Aurora Evolution model delivered good results again at the previous event in 2011, achieving 7th place in the overall category and 2nd in the production class.
Aurora Evolution wins the 2013 World Solar Challenge
In the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the Aurora Evolution surpassed its former achievements by claiming victory in the GoPro Adventure Class. None of the other competitors from the class were able to match the solar racing car in a race from Darwin in the north of Australia to Adelaide on the south coast. This victory was made possible because the modest 140 kilogram unladen weight of the Aurora Evolution comprised nothing but the very latest technology, including RADOX cables from HUBER+SUHNER. Given the power constrained environment of solar racing cars in the Australian desert, these ultra-lightweight but rugged and fireproof cables are one of the key factors for success. Thanks to the unique and thin RADOX insulation, Aurora could use cables with greater copper cross section and therefore reduce wiring losses without having to add any extra weight – crucial in such a lightweight vehicle that uses just 1380 watts to achieve 100 km/h. “We work to the rule 1 kilogram = 1 watt. Every kilogram we save or watt we don’t lose in wiring lowers the team's power consumption and means we can go faster for longer”, explains Marketing Manager, Martin Brook. ”We are very grateful for the support of HUBER+SUHNER in making their cable technology available to us.”
AMZ Racing Team successful in Formula Student
HUBER+SUHNER is also involved as a sponsor in Formula Student: a competition in which students from all over the world are able to compete against one another in electrically powered racing cars that they have designed and built themselves. The Akademische Motorsportverein Zürich (AMZ), a Swiss team from Zurich, has long been one of the top teams. The season that finished just a few weeks ago was the most successful in the history of this Swiss association, according to Sven Rohner, CEO of AMZ Racing. The team not only won two first and two second places, but also scooped up every single Engineering Design Award. “This entirely justifies our first place in the world league table at the end of the season,” states Rohner.
The successful AMZ racing car “julier” was also equipped with RADOX cables from HUBER+SUHNER. As confirmed Heinz Oesch, Market Unit Manager Automotive at HUBER+SUHNER, this was for the same reasons as in the Aurora Evolution: “The material we have developed is very robust and, despite thin wall thicknesses, meets the stringent quality requirements of various industries.” In the automotive sector in particular, this is viewed as a decisive advantage, because this thinner design saves space and weight.
Robust thanks to electron-beam crosslinking
No matter whether under the Australian sun or on the race tracks of the Formula Student: RADOX cables are tested to the highest levels in competitions of this nature, but not only there. RADOX cables from HUBER+SUHNER are primarily used in vehicles driven by electric motors, as well as in engine compartments. “In other words: wherever high requirements are imposed for resilience to temperature, chemicals, electrical and mechanical components,” states Heinz Oesch. HUBER+SUHNER achieves these exceptional properties in its specially developed sleeve material using a technique known as electron-beam crosslinking. This process alters the composition of plastic and makes it substantially more robust. As a result, RADOX will surely continue to prove successful on the race tracks of the world both now and in the future – and in other areas too.
3 questions to Martin Brook, Marketing Manager of Aurora Vehicle Association:
Aurora was already successful in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2011, now it even topped the result from back then. Was it basically the same car with the same technology or was there significant progress in between?
The key difference between this campaign and the previous one was improved electrical reliability, coupled with the all new Aurora/Symtech Maximum Power Point Tracker, developed over 18 months. The power point trackers work to get the maximum power possible out of the panels and convert it into power needed to feed the motor and charge the battery.
The RADOX cables from HUBER+SUHNER were a key factor for the success. Can you explain to a layman what makes a cable that important in a solar car? How can it make a difference?
There are three reasons: Weight, efficiency and reliability.
Every kilogram in the car is an extra watt of power we need to drive along. When you only have a power maximum of 1200 watt from the panel and a car that needs 1380 watt to do 100 km/h, every kilogram and therefore power you can save makes a huge difference.
It’s similar with efficiency. Every movement of power in a wire results in energy loss. The thicker the cable, the lower the loss, but the higher the weight. It’s all a tradeoff.
Moreover we need reliability. The cables need to survive harsh internal car conditions, temperatures well above 60°C and extreme levels of vibration.
How does the technological progress in a "mission“ like Aurora influence our every-day life, e.g. does your work have an impact on products other than in solar car races?
Solar car racing is about pushing the boundaries of technology. It’s been described as the Formula 1 of electric car racing. Technology used in solar car racing has ended up in road cars in the form of tyres, like the Michelin Energy Series Tyre, solar cell systems for roofing and Maximum Power Point Trackers for optimising the efficiency of solar panel installations. High efficiency motor technology has also found its way from solar cars into other uses, with products like the in-wheel motor.