These guys are building the first ever Electric Vehicle (EV) to cross the Simpson Desert – 100% solar and wind-powered. Now that sounds like an adventure.
Dan Clements and Tom Creek met while studying electrical engineering at the University of Wollongong were drawn together through a shared passion for renewable and sustainable technology. Combined with a love for outdoors and all manner of adventure sports, the bro-love was unavoidable.
Over the last 4 years they have honed their craft whilst working for a power utility company in Canberra whilst filling their souls with everything adventure related in the snowies. It was around this time that they were struck by an idea, one that refused to drift into the ‘it cant be done/I haven’t got the time/ I cant be arsed pile’.
So where did the idea come from and what makes it so unique?
In mid 2015, with a bunch of mates, we purchased a 4×4 van off gumtree and planned a trip to experience outback Australia. For some of this trip we travelled in convoy but for a large portion we were flying solo. On the return leg home from the Simpson Desert, while “van haulin” across the Strzelecki Track we blew up half the gears in our gearbox. We nursed the busted van the last 1,500km home where we set about repairs. Having beers after one workshop session a mate joked that we should build an electric vehicle capable of the same trip. The idea stuck and grew until here we are, planning a fully renewable powered crossing of the Simpson Desert.
Where will the adventure take you?
Given that the desert is quite some way from Canberra we will be transporting the EV to the start line. Depending on road conditions, we will be looking make the most of the trip up and back, and are hoping to check out things like Coober Pedy and the Oodnadatta track and Lake Eyre.
However the real attraction of the trip is the Simpson Desert itself. From natural oasis like Dalhousie hotsprings all the way through to the huge salt plains the desert really has a lot on offer.
The official start of the EV drive will be at the western side of the desert at Purni bore. A west to east crossing will help us take full advantage of our regenerative breaking capabilities as the prevailing winds shape the dunes to have a gentle western face and a steep Eastern face. The finish line will more than likely be the Birdsville bakery or pub, were a famous pie and cold one should do the trick of washing off some dust.
How long do you think it will take?
The trip will take us 8 days. We have planned a driving schedule for morning and dusk to fully utilise the time of day when solar irradiance is optimal. Of course this is weather dependent, but with the diversified generation system we have designed we are confident that this is a conservative estimate.
What are some of the risks? Is there anything you’re scared of?
The biggest risk would be the weather. It can be quite unpredictable and being our only source of power we are at its mercy. As such the design of our renewable generation system is an area of the project that we have dedicated a lot of time to, ensuring it is ready for the job.
Our next biggest concern would be mechanical failure. We won’t have the luxury of service centres or mechanic workshops out in the desert, so a mechanical failure could prove quite troublesome. One of the great advantages of an EV conversion is that we will be doing away with a lot of the components that generally lead to these breakdowns. In comparison the AC electric motor we will be using only has only one moving part making it a lot less prone to issues than a typical fuel engine. Once the conversion is completed we will be putting the vehicle through some real tests. With plenty of great 4×4 options in our back yard we can be confident that the vehicle we have built will be the toughest it can be.
Has anything like this been done before?
No, and that’s what excites us. It’s our chance to be pushing the limits of what this technology is capable of and changing the public perception. The EV space is really moving quickly (no pun intended) and there are lots of brilliant people out there getting involved so it won’t be long before we all see this technology taking the limelight off the old fossil fuels across the board.
How can we support you in making this happen?
There are two ways that you can support us. First is to help spread awareness. We believe that this is something that many will be excited about. This is people’s chance to be involved in a world first, and chances like that don’t come up very often.
Second is to back us on kickstarter. If you believe in the project or believe in making a more sustainable future you can help us really smash the misconceptions surrounding this technology.
Will you be documenting the trip so we can follow along?
Yes we will. One of our first supporters (Alloffroad) is very excited at the chance to document this journey. We will also be documenting the build process and will be releasing it as a resource for others interested in their own conversions.
You can follow along on the adventure here: