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The Car

ABOUT ASCEND

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LENGTH  –  4.93 M

WIDTH   –  2.0 M

HEIGHT   –  1.29 M

RIDE HEIGHT  – 200 mm

WHEELBASE   – 2.86 M

WEIGHT  –  690 kg

CRUISING SPEED  –  80  km/h

BATTERY CAPACITY   –  60  kW/h

TORQUE  – 200 Nm

ASCEND Deakin University’s solar-powered car began by challenging engineering students to not only design a vehicle to be entered into the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge ‘Cruiser’ division but a vehicle they would like to drive daily that is as sustainable as possible in design and construction – a brief that was taken very seriously. Over 1000 Deakin students were involved in the design and manufacture of ASCEND and what has resulted is a solar-powered vehicle that carefully balances aesthetics, innovation, efficiency and practicality.

Solar Array

A 5 m2 array of Sunpower® Maxeon® solar cells have been encapsulated with a form of Teflon that stops dust collecting and reducing the efficiency of the solar panels.  These flexible solar cells conform to the curves of the car and have an energy generation capacity of over 1500 w, 29% more than conventional solar in the same space.

Motors

Two EMRAX 188 MV Motors provide ASCEND optimum acceleration and power while using minimal energy. These electric motors can produce 80 horsepower and nearly 100 Nm of torque each. They weigh 7 kg and are less than 200 mm in diameter. The motors are controlled through a high-efficiency Prohelion Wavesculptor 22, resulting in a system with over 90% efficiency.

Light Weight Design

Careful material selection and stress analysis ensure that components are strong as well as lightweight. The chassis uses thin-walled Chromoly tubing and weighs less than 85 kg. Using generative designed 3D-printed titanium front uprights and CNC-milled aluminium suspension arms all combine to make ASCEND half the weight of a regular car.

3D Printed Body

Body panels are modelled in CAD and 3D- printed with nylon powder using Multi-Jet Fusion technology, which has production rates much faster than traditional 3D- printing technologies. Tough and strong the nylon panels can be sanded and polished to get a smooth exterior finish.

Efficient Tyres

Student-designed wheels are CNC machined from aluminium to ensure they are light and strong. Bridgestone has sponsored ASCEND with tyres designed specifically for solar cars to reduce rolling resistance. These very skinny tyres are hyper-efficient, allowing the car to maintain its grip and stability while also improving its range.

Future Materials

Composites of basalt fibre and eco bio-resins are used to reinforce the car body as well as keep it lightweight. Basalt fibre is made from volcanic rock, melted, and stitched or woven into fabrics. Deakin researchers are applying these materials to a real-world environment to see how they perform.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Two batteries power ASCEND - a 20 kW/h and a 40 kW/h Lithium-Ion Battery pack manufactured by Prohelion. They are made from hundreds of cells, giving an average voltage of 135 v. ASCEND has a total battery capacity of 60 kW/h, which is about the same as a 2022 Tesla Model 3. 

Electric Charging

ASCEND can be charged through its solar array, at electric charging stations or home power outlet. A traditional electric vehicle charger will take 10 hours to charge both batteries from empty to full, with up to 1500 km of range from one charge at a cruising speed of 80 km/h.