Going to the South Pole by a solar-powered 3D Printed vehicle: the adventure of a Dutch couple

How far are you prepared to go to promote a zero-waste lifestycle? Edwin and Liesbeth ter Velde, a Dutch couple, are willing to drive in a solar-powered 3D printed vehicle to reach Antartica. Starting on November 28th, they will embark on a 30 days journey with their intriguing vehicle, the Solar Voyager. How do they leave their comfort zone (a true house, sun, …) for the coldest place of the world?

Clean2Antarctica

After throwing away another plastic packaging during a dinner, Edwin and Liesbeth ter Velde decided to be the key players of their environment. “The next day they went to the butcher with their own reusable packaging. An uncomfortable situation, but a moment of success that set off a personal adventure. Liesbeth and Edwin went from the discomfort of their own trash to taking on the freezing challenge of Antarctica.

To go to the South Pole, the Dutch couple will drive a solar-powered vehicle built from 3D printed plastic components. The Solar Voyager weighs in at 1,485 kilograms and has a length of 16 meters. In order to manufacture the car, the couple 3D printed hexagonal blocks, called HexCores, using recycled PET filament.

The manufacturing required 3D printers to turn 200 kg of plastic into the chassis of the vehicle. 3D printed knobs enable the latter to withstand extremely cold temperatures of that environment. The couple explained that the vehicle is made for the extreme. “Ten solar panels provide constant power for the engine, and vacuum pipes can melt the ice.”

The makers have also integrated two 60-kilogram batteries with a total power of 10 kWh as well as infrared windows in order to absorb sunlight and vacuum solar tubes that melt snow.

If driving to the South Pole on solar power was our ultimate goal, we would still be proud of our mission because no one has ever done it before and the technology we developed can become a prototype for Antarctic research drones,” the couple said. “However, it’s not about technology but about starting experiments and discovering what’s possible with waste. To reach a circular society, we need to start doing things differently. Our expedition is an example how far you can get when you simply start doing things differently instead of talking about abstract solutions.”

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