Solar Team Twente Case Study

Project Details

Customer: Solar Team Twente

Application: Solar Car Engine

Technology: Brazed Fin

Industry: Research / Green Energy

Location: Twente, Netherlands

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The Design Challenge

In May of 2015 Aavid, Thermal division of Boyd Corporation, in Bologna,Italy received an urgent request from our favorite student racing team -Solar Team Twente from the University of Twente.

They had designed, built and tested an amazing solar car with one andonly ambition: win the World Solar Challenge 2015 driving across theAustralian Desert. In 2012 Aavid had developed a cooling solution fortheir solar-powered control electronics. Now they needed a radicalweight reduction to help improve the solar car’s performance.

Timing was short. To make the race qualification deadline, we needed toconceptualize, analyze, build, test and deliver prototype cooling solutionsin just a few weeks. Working closely with Solar Team Twente, that isexactly what we did.

The Aavid Solution

The existing solution used by the team was developed by Aavid inBologna, Italy in 2012. It was constructed from formed aluminum finsbrazed to a baseplate. During the tests for the competition in 2013, theteam observed that in operation the heatsink was “too cold to be true”.At a weight of 0.74 kg (1.6 pounds), the cooling solution was clearlyoversized, overweight and over performing for the latest reduced heatload.

We needed to very quickly re-optimize the design for minimum weightwhile maintaining adequate thermal performance. Analysis showed thatwe could significantly reduce the fin height and pitch. The team decidedto stick with the brazed assembly process, so the base and finthicknesses were set at the minimums required for brazing.

Modeling predicted that Aavid could to reduce the weight of the thermalsolution by 50% reaching 0.36 kg (0.8 pounds) while meeting thethermal requirements. Aavid rapidly formed the fins, used CNC tomachine the base, brazed together the entire structure, sand-blasted it,and applied a black anodize finish to enhance radiated transfer.

Solar Team Twente completed the test and the results were exactly asAavid predicted - great thermal performance at half the weight. Best ofluck to Solar Team Twente in Australia!

For more information on this incredible team visit

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