Princess Elisabeth Base, a Belgian science base in Antarctica, has had the first fully electric Arctic exploration vehicle since December 10. It is Venturi Antarctica.
The Belgian Princess Elisabeth Base is a science base in Antarctica that was built during the 2007-2008 International Polar Year. The site was completed in 2008-2009 and has been in use since February 15, 2009. It is a “zero emissions” plant, with the ambition to use only renewable energy. For example, the base runs on solar panels and wind turbines. Also, all waste from the base is recycled.
Zero-emission transport of people and goods
Venturi Antarctica was built by the Venturi Antarctica company in Monaco. After Prince Albert II of Monaco returned from a trip to Princess Elizabeth’s base in 2009, the prince contacted Gildo Pasteur, Venturi’s director. The Prince Albert II Foundation requested from Venturi a zero-emissions solution for transporting passengers and goods to and from scientific research sites.
As a result of this mission, Venturi developed three vehicles. The latest version is now running at Princess Elizabeth’s base. The buggy was developed by designer Sasha Lakić. The design is largely determined by technical limitations. These are related, among other things, to the thermal insulation, the size of the battery and the piping structure of the structure.
The Venturi Antarctica is equipped with folding seats, among other things. This allows the vehicle to transport six people, equipment and a second battery to and from the search sites. This second battery doubles the range from 50 kilometers to 200 kilometers. This range is maintained down to temperatures up to -50°C.
Prototype tested by Prince Albert II
A prototype vehicle was tested by Prince Albert II on a 42-kilometre trek through the mountains between Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek, both in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
So far the car has already been used at Princess Elisabeth’s base. In its first week, the vehicle was used, among other things, for scientific missions on Earth. This concerns, for example, the maintenance of various automated weather stations. Maintenance was also carried out on a new Belgian air control station at an altitude of 2,300 meters on the Antarctic plateau. Venturi Antarctica made this station accessible without compromising the environment.
Snow temperature measurements were also taken during his flights using reconnaissance vehicles. These measurements are used to validate satellite measurements. A simulated rescue operation was also carried out, in which it was necessary to save a person from the rift.
“It has been almost twelve years since His Royal Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco returned from a trip to Antarctica and told me that scientific research stations had no clean cars. Through the Foundation of Prince Albert II of Monaco, Venturi was entrusted with the task of providing An emission-free solution that enables new areas of scientific research. In 2009, there was no technology available that would allow such a vehicle to operate in rough terrain at -50 ° C. The third Antarctic version is now optimal,” said Gildo Pasteur, Group Director. Venturi, “My team and I are proud to present this vehicle to Polar International.”
Conduct zero-emission research
Alain Hubert, Founder and Director of Polar International: “Our work with Venturi shows that any organization can identify a range of solutions to climate problems. The mission of our Foundation and of the Belgian Princess Elisabeth base is very clear: to provide the opportunity for scientists to conduct their research in Antarctica from a first-class base that is empty of emissions. Venturi Antarctica fully complies with this view. It opens a new era of logistics operations in Antarctica within the framework of the Madrid Protocol, signed in 1992. This environmental protocol called on the parties to the Antarctic Treaty to continuously improve the environmental management of operations. “
Hubert adds: “The tests conducted so far have been very convincing. We are pleased to continue to be involved in improving the power performance of this vehicle in the service of science.”
Author: Wouter Hoeffnagel
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