What is UTSVT?
The University of Texas Solar Vehicles Team is a student-driven effort to design, build, test, and race solar vehicles. Our mission is to raise awareness of solar powered alternatives and to engage students in creating solutions to challenging problems. We have continued to serve as the host school for the American Solar Challenge (ASC) and Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) events, which include a track and cross-country solar car race. For the past two races, we raced our car, the “Tex-Sun”, at the Circuit of the Americas F1 track for the FSGP as well as the ASC cross country-race from Austin to Minneapolis. Our team has a competitive edge against well-known engineering schools like MIT, UC Berkeley, and Georgia Tech in these past races.
Following our successes with the “Tex-Sun”, we are in the process of developing and fundraising for a new solar car to be released for ASC 2016. We decided to honor Bevo, who will be celebrating 100 years as the mascot of UT, by naming our new solar car as the “BeVolt”. Every couple of years, we want our members to become experienced in designing a new vehicle to continue the progression of knowledge and solar racing innovation. We are finalizing our designs for the "BeVolt" and looking forward to proceed with construction. See more about us at www.facebook.com/utsvt and www.utsvt.com/ American Solar Challenge: www.americansolarchallenge.org/
A Hands-On Approach
A very diverse team of undergraduate and graduate students from the Cockrell School of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences, and the McCombs School of Business, will converge to create a competitive solar car from the ground up. These students will immerse themselves with knowledge from lectures compounded by self-motivation to explore new areas of engineering innovation to implement a cutting-edge design. With diverse educational backgrounds and skill-sets, these students will learn how to work together as an interdisciplinary team to keep the interconnected systems of the car working in unison. Faculty advisers, like Dr. Gary Hallock and Dr. Jim Wiley, both from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, play an active role in providing insight and guidance to engineering design challenges.
All students on the team will see their design projects progress from the design phase to a working system used in the car. Each student will learn fabrication techniques from experienced students, faculty, and industry specialists to create their projects. The majority of the electronic circuits are designed, hand-soldered, and programmed by students primarily in the ECE and computer science departments. Many of the mechanical parts are machined, manufactured, or printed by students using UT's machine shops and MakerSpace or specially sponsored facilities. Once each of these subsystems is manufactured, they are then installed and interlinked to create a car.
How can I help?
Your support will be involved in every step to complete these students' projects leading to the "Be-Volt". In order to be competitive, the team must design and construct a highly optimized and lightweight car, as it must operate solely off solar energy. These designs must also comply or exceed safety and competition standards. There are four main systems with sub-projects that are interconnected to make the car. Your contributions will assist in completing many of the projects in one of these categories:
The major electrical systems are the battery pack, motor, motor controller, vehicle data logging and telemetry. These systems are responsible for propelling the car during the track and cross country races.
Our battery pack must be built with lithium ion cells, as they are the lightest weight, the most energy dense, and can be recharged by the solar array. We will have to purchase nearly a thousand individual lithium ion cells to conduct life-cycle testing on batches for quality control and optimization. Each of these modules is then monitored by a battery protection system (BPS). Designed, built, and programmed by student team members, the BPS consists of circuitry to monitor the status of the battery pack. It will calculate the amount of remaining capacity and prevent unsafe operation of the battery by isolating it from the car. This system has been rigorously tested for precision and reliability during the scrutineering stages of FSGP and ASC, in order to insure the safe operation of the battery to protect the driver and others on the track.
Motor and Controller:
We utilize a custom built, 5 HP DC brushless motor with 98% efficiency, integrated with a motor controller to interpret driver inputs, like the accelerator and regenerative brake control. This is one of our largest upfront costs.
Vehicle Data Logging and Telemetry:
This highly customized computer system designed and built from scratch by students is responsible for recording a wide variety of vehicle operations, such as: monitoring power consumption, power generation from the solar array, tire pressures, speed, GPS, and many other parameters. This data is also transmitted through a WiFi radio modem, which is then uploaded to a website for the team to monitor the status of the car in real time.
Your contributions to the electrical systems will help purchase batteries, electronic components, and materials to help assemble all of our custom electronics.
The mechanical systems consist of the chassis, suspension, steering, braking. The mechanical team is responsible for these systems that are custom designed to exceed safety and performance standards.
Your contributions will help purchase metal tubes for the chassis, material costs for machining custom wheel hubs, mounts, suspension pieces, brakes, and shocks.
The car body will be constructed out of lightweight carbon fiber, as used on Formula One cars and other high performance vehicles. We come up with our own design and simulate it in SolidWorks, followed by tweaks and optimizations to minimize size and maximize performance. The files are then exported to cut a mold for our body, followed by preparation to create a smooth surface to shape our body. The carbon fiber is then infused with epoxy, hand inlaid into the mold, vacuum bagged, and popped from the mold to create the body.
Your contribution will help purchase the many gallons of epoxy, mold fabrication, carbon fiber, and layup materials like peel-ply and vacuum bags.
By regulations, we are limited to only 6 square-meters of solar array integrated with various power electronic devices to recharge our battery. SunPower of Austin has kindly arranged to provide us with bare cells for us to assemble as our solar array!
Your contribution will help purchase solar cell lamination materials and bypass diodes.
Why should you support UTSVT?
You will be supporting a new generation of hands-on experienced scientists and engineers, that will join industry and research, to tackle the hurdles of alternative energy, sustainability, and transportation. These students will succeed with your support, as they prove themselves through hard work and dedication in a real world application. With the support of donors to guide our successes, we will bring the ECE department, Cockrell School of Engineering, and UT Austin to be the forefront of alternative energy technologies and research.
Where does your money go?
- Solar Array - Total: $25,000
- Aero - Total: $24,000
- Molds: $12,000
- Carbon Fiber: $10,000
- Epoxy: $2,000
- Mechanical - Total: $7,000
- Chassis: $4,000
- Suspension, braking, and steering: $3,000
- Electrical - Total: $6,000
- Battery: $5,000
- Telemetry and Electronics: $1,000
- Race Logistics - Total: $12,000
- Transportation, Accommodation, Miscellaneous