A group of students and lecturers from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Energy Movement are set to test vehicle long-distance capabilities and to raise awareness about green technology through a series of lectures. The vehicle dubbed as ‘IIanga II is a solar powered electric vehicle that was developed out of a prototype which cost approximately N$15 million ( KES 12.2mn) in material, minds, logistics and fabricating hi-tech once-off components.
In 2010, the UJ Energy Movement programme was established and has seen the solar car travelling from Johannesburg, Namibia and Botswana, to promote the study and development of efficient energy use, environmental awareness, energy management and innovative engineering.
Structure of the car
It has solar panels on top of the vehicle to convert the energy from the sun into power in the battery packs. The Ilanga II tool box is a 3D printer which will be used to replace parts it might need for running repairs. The 3D printer has already produced the steering interface, the buttons, the battery holder and the brackets for the roof panel.
The Ilanga II is built around efficiency and it only accommodates one driver. The team scanned the shape of one of the drivers, placed it into the vehicle and built it around its shape. Thus, only drivers with its shape will fit into the electric car.
In addition, the car does not have any luxuries apart from indicators and headlights. The only radio is the two-way radio the team uses to communicate. It is a bit noisy on the inside because it does not have sound padding that cars usually have, but from the outside, it is very quiet, and has no emissions.
The Ilanga II Solar Car Project has not been built for sale, but presently it is being used to carry out research and develop sustainable and green engineering that can be used in the real world.The project has received sponsorship from companies such as Eskom and Siemens, and a support convoy provided by Mitsubishi which also wants the crew to register their vehicles’ fuel efficiency for its own studies.