Batteries Not Included

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

 The University of New South Wales has a long-term solar development program that produces some of the most competitive solar racers in the world – evidenced by their taking a world speed record for solar-only vehicles on January 7 at Nowra, Australia.  Their record run was witnessed and awarded on the spot by Guinness World Record officials.

“Designed and built by UNSW students, Sunswift IVy is a three-wheeled vehicle with a monocoque carbon fiber body, brushless CSIRO 3 phase DC 1800 W motor, solar array producing about 1200 W (the same it takes to run a toaster) and, usually, a 24.75 kg (55.56 lb) lithium ion polymer battery pack. However, as the milestone is for cars powered exclusively by silicon solar cells, the battery was removed for the record attempt.”

Normally driven by engineering students, the car was handled this day by two professional race drivers.  Despite partially-clouded skies which ended in rain, the team managed a speed of 88.8 kilometers per hour (55.056 miles per hour), finally topping General Motors Sunraycer’s 78 km/hr (48.36 mph) run achieved in 1978.    

The team emphasized that no one would be queuing up to buy solar-powered cars now or in the future, but that such technology, like that of Formula 1 cars, managed to find its way into more mundane vehicles.

Student efforts were supported by NICTA (National ICT Australia), Australia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Centre of Excellence; and Boeing Aerostructures Australia.

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