/ 9 September 2022

CUT solar car chasing the sun to Cape Town

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The Central University of Technology, (CUT) Free State’s solar car team “Seilatsatsi” will be competing in the 2022 Sasol Solar Car Challenge, marking the team’s second participation.

The 14th global challenge has a line-up of 11 participating teams from Saudi Arabia, China, Netherlands, Belgium and South Africa. The eight-day race commenced in Johannesburg on 9 September, and will conclude in Cape Town via Jeffrey’s Bay on 16 September 2022. The team that registers the most kilometres travelled by their solar car will be crowned the winners at the end of the challenge under the participating class.

During the last competition in 2018, the team experienced the race for the first time with their car Pere ea Letsatsi. Loosely translated as “the sun horse”, this was the first CUT solar car designed by computer-aided design (CAD), engineered, and built at the university’s workshops and laboratories by students, alumni and staff.

For this year’s challenge, the team will be competing in their newly designed car called “Ntsu” — a Sesotho name meaning an eagle. The newly designed state-of-the-art car was inspired by an eagle soaring higher than other birds with almost no energy lost. For the competition, participating teams were challenged to develop, build and drive solar-powered cars, aiming to cover the most distance without using a drop of fuel. The vehicle incorporates 3D printing of custom components, electronics and many other features. The car also has a new chassis for reliability on uneven road surfaces.

“These many technologies we see here at CUT represent our aspirations of becoming a leading university of technology in Africa. Our students and staff are the backbone of these innovations, as they always crave an opportunity to do something meaningful with their love for technology to support the university’s ambition,” said Dr Sally Dzingwa, CUT Institutional Registrar. “I am confident to say that our team will soar like an eagle and bring the trophy home.”

The Sasol Solar Car Challenge has commenced, and the teams will be racing across South Africa to test their durability and endurance. From Johannesburg, the eight-stage race will head to Kroonstad, Bloemfontein, Xhariep Dam, Graaff-Reinet, Jeffrey’s Bay, Riversdale and conclude in Cape Town on 16 September 2022. The three designated Ntsu drivers are: Zanele Maqache, Lecturer: Electrical/Electronic/Comp Engineering; Nico Nicolaisen: Co-Founder of CodePure and Sponsor; and Ivane Bester: Second year Mechanical Engineering student.