When students from the Polytech Clermont-Ferrand engineering school in Auvergne, France were challenged to develop a prototype solar-powered electric car, they turned to Parker engineers for help.
The vehicle, appropriately named after the God of the sun, Belenos, bases its drive system on a Parker NX brushless, low-cogging, servo motor and has already successfully participated in many races around the world, including winning the Moroccan Solar Challenge Race in September 2015. But the car is not just for racing—it also serves to raise awareness of the multitude of environmental challenges that the world faces and demonstrates how utilizing solar as a renewable energy source for power generation could have a part in addressing these issues.
A single seater, three-wheeled, electric powered vehicle, the Belenos can reach a maximum speed of 85 km/h (53 mph) and weighs just 180 kg. The upper part of the frame is made from composite material and is covered with photovoltaic cells forming a total surface area of more than 5 m² (54 square feet). The vehicle's damping and braking equipment runs independently of each other on the three wheels to provide accurate control.
The 2015 Moroccan Solar Challenge Race, which is the third held since the event was established in 2013, connects the cities of Marrakech and Ben Guerir over a distance of 75 km and is organised by the Research Institute for Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN) in Rabat. Now approved by the International Federation of Sunraces (ISF), the Moroccan Solar Race Challenge attracts an ever greater numbers of participants.
At the end of qualifying, the Belenos prototype was positioned seventh on the starting grid. The rules of the race, governed this year by the ISF, required the battery of the car to be reduced to 20% capacity before the start of the race to limit the influence of stored power during the event.
"The minimal initial power and having to rely solely on solar radiation energy allowed us to slowly, but gradually advance to first place during the race. This definitely shows the high performance of our prototype."
Professor Benoit Boudour
At the end of the race, in which 11 teams competed, the results were:
First place: Bélénos from Polytech Clermont-Ferrand
Second place: Eco Solar Breizh
Third place: Sunracer from INES
The Belenos prototype solar vehicle project began in 2005 with support from Parker Hannifin, who provided the main drive of a brushless NX servomotor and the associated low voltage drive.
Extremely robust and reliable servo motors
Since 2005, when the Belenos project began, Parker’s NX range servo technology has been able to demonstrate its qualities. Firstly, the high yield of the device was vital to maximising the energy produced by the photovoltaic cells throughout the race. Secondly, Parker’s NX servomotors were also able to demonstrate their reliability and robustness.
Amazingly, the Belenos is still equipped today with the same Parker components originally supplied in 2005. Considering that the vehicle is participating in races held in harsh environments, this is a significant engineering achievement. These races frequently involve subjection to extreme heat and dust exposure, such as the World Solar Challenge race in 2009 which consisted of 3021 km (1877 miles) across the harsh Australian Outback.
You can follow the Bélénos project at http://custsolaire.free.fr/event.html
Find out more about the Parker NX servo motor range at http://www.parker.com/eme/nx