Supporting sustainable ideas





The rugged landscape of the Australian outback is arguably the most challenging setting imaginable for one of the most formidable races for solar cars – the World Solar Challenge 2023. Unforgiving temperatures and endless stretches of road traversed by heavy goods vehicles and large, wild animals make the race a true test of endurance for human and machine alike. Nevertheless, Team Sonnenwagen from FH and RWTH Aachen University took on the challenge with their solar-powered race car called "Adelie", pouring their ingenuity, drive and unshakeable vision into their quest to reach the winner's podium.

Lasting around seven days, the race was preceded by two years of development work in which the team found a strong partner and sponsor in CERATIZIT. The company's many years of experience in the machining of complex components and extremely hard materials was a key factor. So when the students tackled the outback's tough conditions, they were also backed up by the comprehensive expertise of an international corporate group. And by relentlessly pursuing their vision with teamwork and a competitive spirit, they demonstrated once again that success always comes down to an equal partnership and continuous exchange of ideas.


The whole story as a vlog

Watch four gripping episodes and discover how the vision shared by Team Sonnenwagen at FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences and RWTH Aachen University became a reality in the Australian outback with the support of the CERATIZIT Project Engineering Team. 


A strong partner for a strong team

Balancing lectures, everyday routines at university and a personal life is challenging enough for students. But doing it while building a solar-powered race car that can withstand the harsh conditions of the Australian outback and meet the highest technical standards is no mean feat! Despite these challenges, Team Sonnenwagen from Aachen University succeeded in setting milestones with the support of the industry experts at CERATIZIT.

For me, the most exciting thing about the World Solar Challenge is that students are the ones actually building the vehicle. These aren't seasoned pros with 20 years of experience, but students who are giving it their all and working together to get a vehicle like this up and running.
Deniz Yilmaz

The World Solar Challenge in Australia is considered the toughest race of its kind. Covering 3,022 kilometres along the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Adelaide, the route demands both unwavering commitment on the part of the students as well as a wealth of expert knowledge on materials and technology. Team Sonnenwagen finally found their perfect partner at the CERATIZIT Group's brand-new Technical Center in Kempten, Germany. In addition to sharing their expertise, our specialists also helped get the team's solar powered car up and running. Because if you're pursuing victory across the Australian continent with just the power of the sun, you can't go it alone.


Tool expertise versus titanium

Achieving huge goals together and implementing challenging projects is JUST OUR THING. Simon Bastiani, Application Engineer at CERATIZIT, helped the team of students machine complex components made of the challenging material titanium.

Occasional difficulties are always to be expected when machining materials as challenging as titanium, of course. But it is precisely these challenges that teach us the most, and we keep at it – until we get the perfect final outcome.
Simon Bastiani
Application Engineer in the CERATIZIT Technical Centre

The versatile EcoCut series with the relevant grooving and indexable inserts was mainly used for turning operations, as it could be used not only for drilling, boring and face turning, but also for external machining – without needing annoying and time-consuming tool changes. Essential for machining the titanium were the MaxiLock N-DC tool holders with DirectCooling (DC), which could be used for targeted coolant application to the cutting edge – a huge advantage at extremely high process temperatures.

A number of CERATIZIT Group branches, including international locations in Spain, the Czech Republic and the UK, also provided support in the form of product drawings and STEP files. In other words, an international team went the extra mile together and used its wealth of knowledge from the medtech, automotive and aerospace sectors to make the students' vision a reality.


From the lecture hall to the outback

Equipped with their custom titanium elements, Team Sonnenwagen returned to Aachen to finish Adelie – an aerodynamic race car with a bullet design inspired by the Adélie penguin, which has an especially streamlined body. With a length of 5 metres, width of 1.2 metres and height of 1 metre, and covered entirely in solar panels, the Adelie more closely resembles a boat than a car.

It is sometimes good to watch parts being made live on site, in the CERATIZIT Technical Centre. If you only ever spend your time on CAD systems, you have no idea of how much effort is involved in producing components like this. It certainly helps to ensure that next time you design components that are somewhat easier to produce.
Christian Behrends
Team Sonnenwagen Aachen

After promising test results, maximum motivation and ideal conditions came the world's toughest solar racing event. Having undergone exhaustive testing, the vehicle and its driver now had to prevail on a 3,022 kilometre route in scorching heat. "Consistency is key," said Simon Zaers, who piloted the Adelie but nonetheless ran into bad luck 2,750 kilometres into the race. Buffeted by large trucks passing by, the vehicle – which weighs just 160 kilogrammes – ran off the road and rolled over, resulting in the team's disqualification. But despite their disappointment,

giving up wasn't an option. Surprisingly, Adelie suffered only minor damage and the integrity of the carbon design was restored after just a few repairs. Even those running the race were impressed by Team Sonnenwagen's indomitable grit, and the students were allowed to cross the finish line and celebrate their victory in spirit.


Achieving their goal together

Team Sonnenwagen from Aachen University had set itself high goals for the World Solar Challenge 2023 – but the team members' dedication and motivation were higher still. CERATIZIT, a gold sponsor of the project, is proud of the impressive performance the students achieved in Australia and the tenacity with which they pursued their vision despite the setbacks. The car's electrical system and wheel suspension remained intact, and the team's spirit unbroken.

Their sights are now firmly set on reaching the podium at the next edition of the Challenge. We are proud to have built a car that has a very good structure and electrical system, and we're ready for 2024.
Simon Zaers
Team Sonnenwagen Aachen

This unwavering team spirit and willingness to go the extra mile to drive sustainable visions are values that CERATIZIT also lives by – JUST OUR THING.

The solar car in detail
See the tools involved in producing the components in the solar car.



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