Sustainable mobility is one of the most important fields of development: Solar cars can travel long distances, without any breaks for charging. Students of the Belgian Agoria Solar Teams from Leuven managed to set records with a KSG circuit board. In the blog article, you will learn from team captain Mathieu Peeters how KSG was able to make an important contribution to the development of the solar car with an Iceberg® circuit board.
Mr. Peeters, if someone had told you a few years ago that you and your team would one day set a world record, how would you have reacted?
Mr. Peeters: I might not have believed it. Breaking the record for the most kilometers driven (1051 km) with a Solar car in 12 hours, is a great feeling. As a team, we have grown even stronger together. We have proven that our solar car is ready for big races. However, this only worked out with good preparation. Especially technically it is important to drive flawlessly, the pilot change should be “on-the-fly” and there must be good weather conditions. This interaction earned us the first record.
Congratulations, on this top performance! What experiences have you had as Head of Energy in the Agoria Solar team during this time?
Mr. Peeters: Personally, as an engineering student, I was looking for an interesting and challenging project, and topics such as renewable energy have always appealed to me. In addition, there was the work in the team. Building a car almost entirely by yourself with 30 other students requires a lot of coordination and cooperation. It was all super educational.
Interview: Mathieu Peeters - Head of Energy & Electrical Engineer Agoria Solar
Mathieu Peeters, as Head of Energy and High Voltage of the Agoria Solar team, is sure that one of the biggest challenges of our lives will be the transition to a carbon neutral world. “Solar energy, batteries and electric motors will be a very important part of this,” says Mathieu Peeters. He looks forward to continuing to gain hands-on experience with the team and pushing the boundaries of what will be possible in the future!
Looking back at your previous competition preparations – what measures need to be considered when building a solar car?
Mr. Peeters: For one thing, the team has to trust each other and work well together. The planning has to be right so that the car is ready at the time of the race. We drive a lot of test kilometers, we design new systems ourselves, we are always on the lookout for technology that is striving ahead. We need sponsoring partners for this. These need to be contacted and convinced. All this and many other factors must be taken into account to ensure that the construction of a solar car is crowned with success.
Team Agoria Solar
Agoria Solar was founded in 2004 by 31 students from Leuven in Belgium. The aim of the project is to demonstrate which great potential in renewable energies and top European technologies. Likewise, students and pupils are inspired to take responsibility for planning and implementing such a project themselves. On top of that, the developed solar cars are to participate in competitions.
That sounds like a lot of work. How many kilometers per hour does a solar-powered car from your team reach on the track?
Mr. Peeters: On sunny days, the car gets up to 65 km/h. With an additional battery, the car gets even more speed. Should the weather not cooperate, the car can cover an additional distance of almost 700 km.
Agoria Solar recently took second place in South Africa in the “Sasol Solar Challenge” – how long were you looking forward to this day and what challenges did you have to overcome?
Mr. Peeters: We have been waiting for this for a long time. After many breakdowns during the preparation phase and technical defects on the battery, we still managed to take second place at the race in South Africa. Already on the first day of the eight-day race, an accident occurred: an unexpected bump in the road caused the solar car to skid and the side scraped along the ground. We were able to repair the damage, but lost many valuable kilometers as a result. Last night, the solar panel was damaged by the action of an inexperienced team member of an opposing team. The damage could not be repaired and we had to start the last stage with a solar panel that was not working optimally. Despite all the setbacks we are happy to have reached the second place.
Are there already new visions and plans for Agoria Solar?
Mr. Peeters: With our accumulated experience from the last races, we will build our tenth race car next year and participate in the long-awaited World Championship in Australia, which has been repeatedly postponed by Corona. Preparations for this will start soon.
Finally, and of course particularly interesting for us to know: How did you hear about KSG?
Mr. Peeters: In Leuven, we have a Formula Electric team with whom we exchange ideas from time to time. And this is where KSG, as an expert in high-current and thermal management, came into play: “In order for us to win the race, it was a must for us to have a high-performance and reliable PCB made to our specifications. Particularly with regard to sensitive battery technology, it was important for us to use KSG’s expertise for design support.
Printed circuit board details
Mr. Hackl, what were the individual steps in the personal consultation with the Agoria Solar team?
Mr. Hackl: My technical support team and I started first and foremost with general consulting on all our technologies in the area of high current and thermal management. To design a custom printed circuit board, we compared, the strengths and the particular characteristics that were best suited for the conditions and for the construction of a solar car. After this exchange, the decision was made in favor of our Iceberg® technology. After that, we started with the accompanying consultation on layout design.