Bunting is supporting the Brunel Solar Team with specialist magnets and technical support in the development of their Nuna 12S solar powered car. The Nuna 12S will complete with other teams in the 16th Sasol Solar Challenge (September 2024), driving from Johannesburg to Cape Town in South Africa.

Bunting is one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of magnets, magnet assemblies, and magnetising equipment. The Bunting European engineering and manufacturing facilities are in Berkhamsted and Redditch, both in the United Kingdom.

The Brunel Solar Team promote sustainability through innovation. The team was founded after group of TU Delft students watched the movie ‘Race the Sun’, where high school misfits in Hawaii build a car driven on solar power and take part in the 1990 World Solar Challenge in Australia.  The students decided to design and build their own solar car and participate in the World Solar Challenge of 2001. With the help and support of Wubbo Ockels, first Dutch astronaut and professor at the TU Delft who became the team coach, they developed the solar car and won the 2001 race. The first time that a newcomer had won.

Since 2001, the team has continued to promote awareness of the power of sustainable energy trough innovation.  By participating in solar races all over the world, the team wants to highlight the potential of solar power and push the boundaries of the technology.  The team has won the World Solar Challenge on 4 separate occasions, as well as securing 11 other world titles.

The present Brunel Solar Car team was formed in September 2023 for the 2024 Sasol Solar Challenge.  The 11 (eleven) students in the team cover a range of disciplines from engineering design through to marketing.

During the design phase, the Brunel Solar Team realised that they needed specialist magnet-related technical support. On previous motor designs, the team had encountered difficulties with the magnets, which were proving difficult to overcome.  The team read several of Bunting’s technical press releases and blogposts on magnets and complex magnet assemblies, and recognised the company’s focus on sustainable magnets.  Subsequently, the Brunel Solar Team contacted Bunting for guidance on the type, design, and assembly of the magnets used in the motor that drives the vehicle.  With decades of experience in designing and developing magnets and magnet assemblies, Bunting’s Technical Product Manager, Matthew Swallow, spoke with the team and provided precious technical support that clarified the magnet specification and optimum build techniques.

The operating requirements led to the selection of special permanent neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) rare earth magnets, which generate high magnetic forces.  The efficiency of the motor is vitally important in transferring the maximum amount of captured solar energy into motion.  The motor is novel and uses the magnets to produce the most torque per input energy to move the car the furthest distance on the harvested energy.  This extends the range of the solar powered vehicle, making the Brunel solar car very competitive.

The Brunel Solar Team plan to officially reveal and test drive the new solar car in June 2024, before departing for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa in early August.  Further testing will take place in South Africa leading up to the race that starts on the 13th September.  The Sasol Solar Challenge challenges teams to develop, build and drive solar-powered cars, with the ultimate goal of covering the most distance without using a drop of fuel.

“This is a great example of the important role magnets play in ‘green’ technology,” explained Matthew Swallow, Bunting’s Technical Product Manager. “The innovative Brunel Solar Team is pushing the boundaries of solar power technology and we were thrilled to support them with magnet materials and technical assistance.  The development of solar power projects like this and other sustainable technology is vitally important as the world moves away from fossil fuels.”