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WUT students build the future of sustainable transport

Photo of the winning team from the Faculty of Chemistry

In the photo from the left: Arkadiusz Czerwiński, MSc – team supervisor and students: Magdalena Napurka, Magdalena Miętus, Julia Owczarska, Maksymilian Kukuć 

A students team from the Faculty of Chemistry has won the competition ”Drive Innovation – Future of Sustainable Transport”. They have proposed limitation of exhaust fumes with the use of third-generation PV cells.

The competition organised by BASF Poland was open to students of technical fields of study and universities interested in innovations in the automotive and transport industry – in the field of sustainable development or circular economy. 6 teams competed in the final. The Warsaw University of Technology was represented by students of the Faculty of Chemistry: Magdalena Napurka, Magdalena Miętus, Julia Owczarska, Maksymilian Kukuć and their supervisor, Arkadiusz Czerwiński, MSc.

The task included presentation of one’s own idea to solve at least one of the specified problems the automotive and transport industry is facing. Our team took up the issue of limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases and volatile compounds. They proposed the use of third-generation PV cells.

 – We basically wanted a universal idea that could be implemented here and now – say the students. The solution should impact accelerating climate change, as well as follow the premises of Green Deal, i.e., reaching climate neutrality by the European Union by 2050, as well as a ban on selling combustion engine cars by 2035. At the same time, the proposed solution should be realistic.  

– After intensive brainstorming, we came up with the idea to use photovoltaics in the automotive industry. It was not about heavy and rigid panels we know from the rooftops of our houses, but innovative organic PV cells, also called polymer cells. In contrast to silicon cells, there are light, flexible and very thin – stressed the team members.

Such panels, or actually tapes, could be placed on roofs of cars, as well as on semitrailers of trucks. Thanks to this, the vehicle alternator would have smaller workload, exhaust fumes emission would be reduced and the consumption of resources limited.

– With the electricity generated by the cells we would like to power auxiliary devices, such as car lights, air-conditioning or radio. According to the estimates, the introduction of the system only in motor cars in Poland would generate the saving of as much as 3 billion litres of fuel (oil, petrol or gas) – the students explain.

The solution could also be used in other means of transport, e.g., in trains, tramways or even ships. In addition, the students of the Faculty of Chemistry have proposed the use of modern batteries with a solid polymer electrolyte which is being studied by a research team from the Chair of Chemistry and Polymer Technology, a member of which is Arkadiusz Czerwiński, MSc. The battery would allow greater security when using a car and a decrease in the vehicle mass.