Bühler employees start at the World Solar Challenge 2011 with their own Solarmobil10/04/2011 The countdown for the Bühler employees taking part in this year’s World Solar Challenge is running. For over one year, the team built and tested its own solar-powered vehicle – the Solarmobil – after work. Now, from October 16 – 23, it is part of the action in this most grueling solar vehicle race in the world. Bühler is proud of the team and is keeping its fingers crossed. Since early 2010, some 30 Bühler employees have dedicated their leisure time to developing and constructing the Solarmobil SER1. Day in, day out, the team made up of staff from Development, Manufacturing, Marketing, and Service designed and produced all the vehicle components themselves in painstaking manual work after their daily work. This included everything from the wheel suspensions to the seat covers, from the solar generator and the energy storage system to the electric drive. For this, the Bühler employees took advantage of the know-how of the in-house engineers and the global network of suppliers and customers and their technologies.
Under the blazing sun of Australia
From October 16 – 23, the team will now compete as the only Swiss crew with 37 teams from 20 countries in the World Solar Challenge in Australia. The challenge is to cover 3000 kilometers right across Australia with the energy of the sun as the sole source of power. The race will start in Darwin in the north of the country and continue through the Australian Outback down to Adelaide on the south coast. The vehicles will be on the road during seven days a week, from dawn to dusk.
Aerodynamics have priority over comfort
The physical fitness of the three drivers of the SER1 – Leika Resna Pertiwi, Sylvia Scherrer, and Tomo Yamaguchi – will be greatly taxed throughout the race. As driving is only allowed during the daytime, the heat in the cockpit of the lightweight vehicle increases enormously. The ladies must cope with temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius. And they cannot hope for any refreshing breeze of air, since the window cannot be opened because this would disrupt the aerodynamics. They will also face a number of hazards and surprises on their trip. After all, they will not be traveling on a closed racing track, but on the Stuart Highway. They must share it with cars and the mammoth Road-Trains – trucks of XXL size. Moreover, during their tour through Australia’s “Red Center”, they must expect sudden desert winds and kangaroos on the road. To be well prepared for all these contingencies, the whole team completed a safety workshop under the guidance of the Bühler first aid department.
Strategic planning is crucial
Beside the performance of the three drivers, strategy will be all-important during the race across the Australian Outback: Various parameters such as altitude profile of the route, wind velocity, battery charge, or incidence of the sunlight will be permanently checked and coordinated through an escort vehicle which is in direct communication with the drivers in order to determine the energetically optimal speed.
Bühler is thrilled by the enormous effort and commitment of the team and is therefore acting as the main sponsor, providing not only financial funding but also building space and materials for constructing the Solarmobil. For the race, Bühler wishes the team best of luck and success.