Check Out This 3D-Printed, Solar-Powered EV Set to Conquer Antarctica
It’s not a car in the traditional sense, but it is incredible how it came to life in the first placeby Kirby Garlitos, on
It’s not the flashiest of rides, but the Solar Voyager electric buggy is special in its own right for a lot of different reasons. Created by Dutch couple Liesbeth and Edwin ter Velde, the Solar Voyager is a solar-powered electric buggy that the couple plans to take all the way to the South Pole as part of their Clean2Antarctica project. The Solar Voyager is unlike any car you’ve ever seen. It’s not really a car, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s a four-wheeled buggy that tows a pair of two-wheeled trailers that lug around ten bifacial solar panels. The couple is not only setting a goal to take the buggy to the South Pole, but it’s also part of a bigger plan to travel almost 1,500 miles in Antarctica, a journey that’s expected to last 30 days.
The Solar Voyager is cool in so many ways. It’s cool enough that it was created for the specific purpose of traveling to Antarctica and the South Pole. Just as awesome, though, is how the vehicle was created in the first place.
For that, we’ll give the floor to Dutch couple Lisbeth and Edwin ter Velde. The two are part of a team that wanted to take plastic waste and do something extraordinary with it. Sure, there have been thousands of efforts from all over the world with the same goal, but there’s nothing like what these two plan to do. Basically, they built off of their goal to use plastic waste and do something useful with it by literally building a solar-powered vehicle that’s capable of driving them to the South Pole. That’s not a joke, by the way. They’re literally going to the South Pole with the Solar Voyager.
Before that plan took shape, the couple needed to first build the vehicle using only plastic waste.
On that end, they designed a new hexagonal building block known as a HexCore using recycled materials and 3D printing.“We shredded pieces and melted it into the filament that feeds 3D printers,” the team in which the couple belonged to said. “Then we took it to the next level and did it on an industrial scale, using recycled pellets from a waste plant. With forty 3D printers, we printed 4000 HexCores. A building block inspired by the honeycomb, designed to be light and strong.”
Once these building blocks were created, they were then combined to form the structure of the Solar Voyager. Ultimately, the vehicle took shape in the form of a four-wheeled buggy towing a pair of two-wheeled trailers, the latter of which supports ten bifacial solar panels and a number of storage supplies, including food that should last them 47 days in the unforgiving environment of Antarctica. Curiously, the team isn’t lugging along heavy water. Instead, their source of water will be all the ice surrounding them where they’ll be melted in six solar vacuum tubes.
All told, the Solar Voyager weights a little over 3,000 pounds, which is a little on the lighter side compared to a Ferrari supercar.
It’s not as sexy as an 812 Superfast, though. The whole thing measures 52 feet long, and it can run at a top speed of just five mph. Not exactly a Prancing Horse in that department, either.
That’s all part of the team’s plans, though, because the slow speed maximizes the efficiency of the power that’s generated by the solar panels. The team is expected to set out from their base camp in Antarctica to make the journey to the South Pole. Once they hit their destination, they’ll double back to the base camp, completing a journey that will cover 1,491 miles, spanning around 30 days.
It’s not exactly the way we’d like to spend a month of our lives, but give credit to this couple and their team for embarking on this journey. At the very least, we hope they keep safe and warm while they’re down there.