The Innovation Design Lab at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), along with the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (WVTC) has been working on developing the first Namibian Solar Electrical Utility Vehicle (NSEUV), prototyped and designed in Namibia.
A solar taxi based on African needs, it is a lightweight vehicle that runs with a zero carbon footprint. It captures solar energy with solar voltaic cells and stores them in lithium-ion batteries. Director of the Innovation Design Lab, Profesor Pio Lumaga says the vehicle weighs about 200 kg, can take a load of 300 kg, and seat four people comfortably. “Its speed goes up to 50 km per hour and it can run for 100 km before it needs a charge”, he enthusiastically shares.
The NUST research team, among them 15 students, of which five are from the WVTC, was divided into five task teams for mechanical, solar panel and lithium-ion batteries, software and interfaces, electrical and electronics, and composites work. It took the teams six months to manufacture the prototype. “It wasn’t easy, but it was very exciting. The teams actually finished a month-and-a-half ahead of schedule”, Prof. Lumaga says.
Professor Lumaga noted that over the next 30 months, the teams will be building five more prototypes in an attempt to improve on the first NSEUV version. “The strategy is to make it lighter, more user-friendly, more efficient, and to end up with a sustainable solar taxi that operates with a zero carbon footprint”, he adds. Private companies, Solar Age Namibia and Spares Centre also support the project