Bamboo Solar Car
“The innovation in the field of sustainable electromobility”
About the project
This low-cost vehicle made from standard components and renewable and recycled parts is intended to make sustainable electromobility available to everyone. The focus here lies on countries and regions with a weaker infrastructure and many hours of sunshine, as the Bamboo Solar Car uses a solar cell on the roof to generate energy for movement.
The car’s frame is made entirely of bamboo tubes, which are cut and glued together using precise instructions. The flexibly sized solar panels achieve an energy output of up to four kilowatt hours. After just one day of sunshine, the car battery is half charged, and after two days it is fully charged. In this case, the car has a range of about 30 km, which it can cover with a maximum speed of 40 km/h.
Behind the project
During the SMART GREEN ISLAND MAKEATHON in February 2019, the idea of the Bamboo Solar Car was born in the Smart Mobility section. The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, which takes place in Australia every year, served as the inspiration. In this challenge, teams have the opportunity to design and build a vehicle that drives along a 3,000 kilometer outback route – powered only by solar energy.
After only 5 months of development, the first prototype of the Bamboo Solar Car was ready to drive. This prototype was built by ITQ employees and working students during the annual ITQ Summer Event, under the guidance of the core team “Solar Car for Africa”, consisting of 20 students from 7 different countries, within only 24 hours based on the rendering. The decision to use bamboo as a base material was made because of its fast growing and therefore very sustainable property. In addition, bamboo grows in many parts of Africa, which prevents long transport routes.
Importance of the project
While owning a car has long been a standard in Western hemispheres, for many African people it is an absolute luxury item and unaffordable. We want to address this problem with the Bamboo Solar Car by providing a low-cost vehicle made of readily available materials that meets the mobility needs of people living in Africa. Moreover, it also addresses the increasing need for solutions for more sustainable transportation, which has gained tremendous importance considering the climate crisis. The project thus focuses on solving both important social and ecological aspects.
In addition, to these future-oriented topics, ITQ is also particularly interested in promoting young talents with the help of innovative training concepts. These primarily include strengthening the ability to work in teams in an international and interdisciplinary context as well as practice-oriented project management. Both aspects are present in the Bamboo Solar Car Project. It is therefore a matter of creating framework conditions in which young people can develop their abilities, according to the motto “trust instead of control”.
Further developments and versions
The Bamboo Solar Car project attracted so much attention in the local Spanish media and worldwide that exciting follow-up projects have emerged. For this, there are project teams in 4 different locations that are digitally connected. Thus, international student teams in Germany, Gran Canaria, Tunisia and Botswana contributed their know-how and worked energetically on the optimization.
Between March and October 2019, for example, three prototypes were already created in Gran Canaria and Germany as part of events such as the Makeathons. At the end of 2019, this went beyond the borders of Europe when the fourth prototype was built during a Makeathon in Botswana – with its very own challenges. While the team had imported a lot of materials such as electronics and car parts to Botswana, there were problems with the delivery of the raw material bamboo. As a result, the team had to redesign the entire car body under intense time pressure. In doing so, they demonstrated a high degree of innovative thinking and flexibility, which are very important qualities nowadays.
Talking to the locals, it also became clear that another feature was indispensable for African conditions: a tarpaulin that protects against sand and dust. But the journey did not end here. In 2020, for example, an SUV solar prototype was developed and built as part of a challenge with Bavarian Television (BR). The goal was to reduce the cost of the vehicle. Therefore, this model was built to a large extent from old raw materials.
In addition, another version of our solar car was developed in cooperation with the University of Duisburg as part of a seminar lecture on Smart Mobility. This one had its focus on further features like autonomous driving and parking. The latest project of the Bamboo Solar Car series is the Solar Golf Car. This version was developed in cooperation with a local golf course in Gran Canaria. With this project, golf courses can be equipped with solar-powered vehicles in the future, making the vehicles’ power consumption greener.
Our Bamboo Solar Car project is primarily considered to serve as an inspiration. It is planned to be a future-oriented mobility solution for Africa and worldwide. We would like to help people to help themselves in order to ensure the mobility of the population, especially in regions with limited infrastructure. Therefore, this project is open-sourced and accessible to everyone. In this way, new ideas can always be incorporated into the already existing basic framework.
In addition, it is intended to focus on future measures in the field of Education. After all, such projects and educational events represent an excellent opportunity to give young people the chance to learn in an innovative way. In doing so, they can strengthen their skills in terms of interdisciplinary and international cooperation and are thus a great asset to the economy and society. In summary, it is our long-term vision to arouse social interest in these topics of Smart & Green Mobility and Education 4.0. In this regard, we also want to promote a new mindset by giving these aspects a high priority.