Belgians grab double gold in World Cup Australia
Adelaide, Bridgestone World Solar Challenge
Monday 30 October - Besides their world title in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the world championship for solar cars, the Belgians also take home the innovation prize. They receive this prize for their rotating fin that allows the car to drive more stably and consume less energy. Thanks in part to this ingenious design, the Innoptus Solar Team arrived first in Adelaide and are world champions for the second time in a row.
The KU Leuven students based the design on a shark fin. The Belgians already implemented the first version of their fin on the precursor of their current solar car. After this successful pilot project, the students started working on the design of their latest solar car, the Infinite. Team members improved the design, ensuring that the fin can rotate to always be in the most optimal position.
The fin allows students to take full advantage of crosswinds. By unfolding their fin, the solar car is pushed forward and they can 'sail on the wind', so to speak. As a result, the car uses less energy and they can drive faster.
"Through the fin, we can ensure that the car can sail on the wind. This makes the car use less energy, allowing us to drive faster."
Vincent Mertens (23, Heist-op-den-Berg), Aerodynamic Engineer at the Innoptus Solar Team
It is not just the energy savings that give the students a competitive advantage. Thanks to the fin, the car drives more stable in crosswinds. During the world championships, this allowed the solar car to maintain its speed where other teams had to slow down their cars.
"The fin provides extra stability. This allowed us to maintain our speed during the race where other teams had to slow down. That way, we were able to increase our lead."
Mick De Zeine (23, Hoegaarden), Aerodynamic Engineer at the Innoptus Solar Team
The team members are incredibly proud of their achievement. They have worked hard for the past 15 months and are now reaping the benefits. For the team members, it is a dream come true that they will receive recognition for their innovative design in addition to the world title.
"As a team coach, I am immensely proud of what the team members have achieved here. In addition to the world title, they also get to take home the coveted innovation prize. This once again puts Belgian innovation on the map."
Maarten Vanierschot, KU Leuven professor and team coach at Innoptus Solar Team