Our story started as an Honours team with 16 Bachelor students.
Our team name originates from the word ‘virtue’, which means honour, morality and decency, among other definitions. These words represent the values we attach to both our concept and our team. Moreover, the name contains the letters ‘tue’, which forms ‘TU/e’, the abbreviation of our university, Eindhoven University of Technology. In addition, the definition ‘honours’ relates to the university’s Honours Academy, a department that offers a varied choice of extracurricular tracks for excellent students which some of us are part of, thereby allowing us to engage in high quality projects or competitions such as the Solar Decathlon.
Since the first VIRTUe team competed in the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, in Dubai, we have evolved into a new team of 25 (and growing) students from around the world eager and ready to tackle the next project in Wuppertal 2021.
ABOUT THE SDE
The SDE competition is a great opportunity to create houses that are built with new technologies and innovative ideas.
The Solar Decathlon is an international competition that challenges university teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative houses powered by renewable energy. The main goal is to tackle energy transition by blending architectural design and engineering knowledge with innovation, market potential and building efficiency. Initiated in 2002 by the United States Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon takes place every year in a different city in the world. The houses are operated, demonstrated to the public, and evaluated by a jury on a campus of exposition and interaction. The competition involves a broad scope of expertise by challenging teams on 10 contests- recalling the deca (ten) contests of the Olympic decathlon.
Today, it is clear that energy transition cannot be successfully achieved if it is not tackled in an urban perspective. The built environment is responsible for 40% of EU’s energy consumption, and 75% of the building stock in the EU is energetically inefficient (SDE). Cities are the hotspots of these issues, and it is by revitalising the urban building stock and innovating the urban mobility that densifying cities can be transformed and become resilient.
The projects are developed by multidisciplinary teams, giving the students the opportunity to learn not only about technical issues but also about teamwork, communication skills, a sustainable lifestyle and socio-economic issues in order to ensure the viability of their project.
The entire team sees this competition as a great challenge to design a sustainable house that will produce enough energy for itself and that is simultaneously a great tool for educating the public.
ABOUT THE TU/e
Eindhoven University of Technology is located in the south of the Netherlands. It was established on 23 June 1956 by the Dutch government.
It is currently home to about 2,000 academics, 9,900 students, 290 PDEng (Professional Doctorate in Engineering) students, 1,200 Ph.D. students and 3,000 regular employees. The educational program offers 15 Bachelor of Science majors, 22 Master of Science programs and 10 Honors tracks, or excellence programs. Provided by the Honors Academy, these multiannual programs include the Smart Cities track, in which team VIRTUe is taking part.
TU/e strives for innovation, specialising in engineering science and technology and is profiled by three principles:
- Contributing in the development of technological innovation in cooperation with the industry.
- Advancing in engineering sciences through excellence in key research cores and innovation in education.
- Solving major societal issues, boosting prosperity and welfare by focusing on the Strategic Areas of Health, Smart Mobility and Smart Energy.
This last principle is especially relevant to the current research and development status of our project. The research department is actively involved in a variety of research areas related to the Strategic Area Energy. Currently a range of different photovoltaic cells and technologies with emphasis on thin-film solar cells based on both organic and inorganic semiconductor materials is being studied. New photoactive and electrode materials and device architectures are developed that capture and convert the solar spectrum more effectively.
Another line of research within the energy department is the built environment theme. The research projects relate to batteries, heat and cold storage, smart grids and 3D concrete-printing. Optimising the quality of the indoor environment for health, comfort and productivity while simultaneously reducing fossil fuel use is a priority for a future efficient and sustainable built environment.
Because there is much research done concerning energy at the TU/e, gathering new technologies is within reach.