Air France KLM Martinair Cargo partners with the Dutch Brunel Solar Team for 2022 Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, in shared pursuit of sustainability and innovation


[Schiphol 21 June 2022] – We are pleased to announce that Air France KLM Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP) is partnering with the Dutch Solar Team to compete in the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa from 9 to 16 September 2022.

Building on Air France KLM Martinair Cargo’s record of innovating to achieve greater sustainability in transport, AFKLMP will be the Dutch Solar Team’s logistical partner in South Africa’s Sasol Solar Challenge by assisting with the air transport and related processes of the team’s solar vehicle, the Nuna 11s. AFKLMP will also convert the fuel needed to fly the Nuna 11s from Amsterdam to Johannesburg into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), reducing the carbon footprint of its journey.

The oil crisis in 1973 and growing awareness of the damage that fossil fuels cause the environment have sparked global efforts to produce alternative sources of fuel for households and transport. In 1983, the Danish inventor Hans Tholstrup built the first car powered entirely by solar energy. He drove it from north to south Australia, proving that the impossible was possible. Tholstrup is considered the founder of Australia’s World Solar Challenge.

In 2001, the Dutch Solar Team, made up of students from Delft University of Technology, took part in the sixth World Solar Challenge in Australia. Their aim was to inspire as many people as possible to think about sustainability and innovation. As the late Dutch astronaut and Solar Team leader Wubbo Ockels once said, “There is only one earth. And there is no spare”.

Of the 43 teams that took part, the Delft students were the first to cross the finish line with the Nuna, making them the first ”rookie” team to win this race.

Today, solar racing is intended to inspire and drive technological innovation while raising awareness of the environmental impact of fossil fuels and how it can be mitigated. By pushing the different teams to not only use new technologies but also refine them, solar racing drives progress in sustainable technology that will eventually lead to more commercial innovations.

In 2019, KLM and Delft University of Technology entered into a partnership agreement aimed at making aviation more sustainable. The partners carry out joint research into alternative sustainable fuels and energy-efficient aircraft design, such as the Flying-V.

“Air France KLM Martinair Cargo feels inspired and connected with the drive and purpose of the Sasol Solar Challenge. The airfreight industry faces the challenge of reducing our collective carbon footprint. Part of our purpose is to drive innovation towards this goal by leading initiatives involving all the players in the industry. From an airline perspective, fleet renewal and the adoption of sustainable aviation fuel are key policy objectives for the short and medium term, bringing us closer to making the necessary change.” GertJan Roelands, SVP Sales & Distribution Air France KLM Martinair Cargo.

AFKLMP’s main innovation in reducing its carbon footprint is the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Programme, the first of its kind in the industry. Launched in 2021, the SAF Programme invites players in the value chain to purchase sustainable aviation fuel for their flights, thus lowering the total carbon output of their journeys. SAF is produced using alternative feedstock, such as used cooking oil and straw and wood residues (but never palm oil). Blended with conventional jet fuel, SAF proactively reduces emissions by up to 85% compared to fossil fuels.

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About the Sasol Solar Challenge 2022
The Sasol Solar Challenge is South Africa’s biennial competition for talented engineering teams from around the world, who challenge one another to cover as much distance as possible on public roads from Johannesburg to Cape Town in solar-powered cars. The eight-day event traditionally spans more than 2,500 km, with local and international teams putting newly developed technology to the test as they pass through South African towns.

The basics
This tough competition proves challenging for even the best international solar teams. Each day, solar cars and their support vehicles traverse a route of 250 - 300 km. There are three major stops on each stage: the start line, the control stop, and the finish line.

Start line
Solar teams set off in convoys, crossing the start line in the same order they finished the previous day’s stage.

Control stops and loops
Each of the eight daily routes requires a 30-minute compulsory control stop at a set location between the start and finish lines. For lunch? Sort of! Control stops are an opportunity to refresh, swap drivers, do repairs, and strategize. They’re also an opportunity for the host town to come out and support the teams.

Each control stop also has an optional loop of road – of varying distances each day – which crews can drive solar cars around as many times as they like, racking up those precious kilometres. Each loop requires an additional five-minute stop at the control stop – cars off, and drivers out. But careful! The cut-off time at the finish line looms, and that may still be hundreds of kilometres away.

Finish line
Each day-long stage of the eight-day challenge ends at 17:00 hrs, when all teams have to have their solar cars parked in the “parc fermé” paddock. Spectators look on with dread as top teams strategize and stretch their time, arriving just seconds before cut-off, having squeezed every kilometre possible out of the day. Late arrivals are penalised, which could change the start line the next day!

Read more on: www.solarchallenge.org.za

About the Dutch Brunel Solar Team
The team consists of eleven highly motivated students from Delft University of Technology with various technical backgrounds, from aerospace engineering to robotics, all working to push the boundaries of sustainability. Their hope is that their solar car will inspire the world towards greater sustainability and more technical innovations. The team competes in the various solar races that take place every year in South Africa or Australia. So far, they have won seven out of ten races in Australia and three out of three in South Africa. This year, the Dutch Solar Team will be racing in South Africa and will try to keep up the winning streak!

Read more on: brunelsolarteam.com/

Media contact
Lucas Frantzen – E: lfrantzen@brunelsolarteam.com – M: +31(0)6 12 93 60 00