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Solar Boat Twente: A new direction

Solar Boat Twente was founded in 2016 and has been designing, building, and optimising a very efficient solar-powered boat. We compete in the Solar Sport One Competition with the National Championship in Akkrum and the World Championship in Monaco. Last year, Solar Boat Twente had the fourth most efficient solar-powered boat in the open class of the World Championship. But how do we create such an efficient boat? A large part is the optimised electrical system.

Electrical system

The electrical system of Solar Boat Twente is a big part of the boat. It all starts with the solar panels. We, of course, want to collect as much power as possible from the solar panels. We use solar cells made of mono-crystalline silicon with an antireflection coating on top which have an efficiency of ~24%. The solar panels that lie on rooftops of houses have an efficiency of 16-20 %. The cells are placed in panels and laminated with a light and thin material that is able to absorb as much light as possible.

When the power is collected within the solar panels, maximum power point trackers (MPPTs) ensure that only the highest voltages and currents are extracted from the panels. The lower voltages are filtered out and will not be used.

After maximising the power, it is stored within the battery. The battery contains 156 Lithium-Ion cells with a total capacity of about 1.73 kWh. Only about 1.5 kWh of this capacity is actively used due to the race regulations. The battery is managed by an open-source battery management system.

The last big part of the electrical system is the motor controller. We have started a collaboration with Solar Team Twente to create a small, light, and efficient motor controller which can be used in both the solar car and solar boat.

Sustainability & innovation

This year, Solar Boat Twente has started a new subteam called ‘Sustainability & Innovation’. We are currently doing research on how sustainable our solar boat is and in what regard the technology that we use is sustainable. We will also research, with our partners. what we can improve to be a bigger influence on the maritime sector.

Being part of a student team

Most of the things you learn during your Bachelor’s are theoretical. A student team is perfect to add some practical experience to the mix. Together with students from different backgrounds you work a year on a large project, here you gain a lot of hands-on experience, for example in Electrical Engineering by making all sorts of PCBs and parts. This can be done full-time, but also part-time along with your study. Some people are working on things related to their studies, others do something completely different. This makes Solar Boat Twente a great learning experience, where everything is possible as long as you are motivated.

Do you want to change the future of the maritime industry? Come to our interest activities in March/April. See www.solarboattwente.nl for the exact dates