Alfe Heat Treating, sponsor of the University of Texas Austin’s Solar Power Team, helped design and build the TexSun, a vehicle with an aluminum sub-frame and chassis. The 35-pound design is much lighter than the previous model’s 80-pound steel sub-frame and chassis. “The aluminum chassis was great because it is so much lighter,” said Alfe Vice President Dan Andersen. “However, for it to be strong enough it had to be heat treated, so we had to create a special fixture to ensure the frame remained dimensionally intact and not warp into a tangled mess.”
The new design debuted at the Formula Sun Grand Prix, FSGP, held June 24 through June 29, 2013 in Austin, Texas. The annual collegiate solar car track event is held by FSGP and the Innovators Educational Foundation, and was created to develop and showcase solar-powered automobile technology. College teams design and build a solar-powered vehicle and then compete in a three-day endurance event.
Teams have limited charge times each day, so energy management is critical as the winner is the vehicle with the most laps completed at the end of three days. The UT Austin car had a total of 121 laps completed and a fastest lap of 5:02.661. The overall winner was Oregon State with a total of 193 laps completed. Iowa State’s Cory Anderson had the fastest lap at 4:42.289.
Now that the vehicle has been tested in an actual event, modifications will continue and it will be run in future races. For more information, visit www.al-fe.com.