In this week’s Solar Sunday PotD we have a totally solar-powered car – the Polaris II from the University of Toronto’s Blue Sky Solar Racing Team. It is shown at the end of the day in a 7 day race from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia – the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge . It’s a 7 day 3,000 kms (1,864 mi) marathon starring cars running on nothing but sun!
The top of the car with the solar cells is hinged so that it can be tilted. As the sun is going down (or coming up in the morning) the it is aligned to be as close to 90 degrees as possible to the sun for maximum efficiency of the photovoltaics of the solar cells.
There are a few solar car races with team entries from universities all over the world. The Bridgestone one takes place in Australia every 2 years, and in alternating year another major one – the American Solar Challenge – takes place. This photo above is from October 2017, taken somewhere in the Australian outback.
The US race starts July 14 2018. The starting line is at the Lewis and Clark landing in Omaha Nebraska and the cars travel 1,700 miles (2,735 km) to Bend Oregon, following the Oregon Trail for part of the journey.
We did a couple of 7minute podcasts with Nasa Nguyen and Nick Cusimano of the Blue Sky team. You can listen here:
Episode 1: Building the Polaris Solar Car
Episode 2: Racing across the Australian outback
They (and everyone on the team – check out their website) are incredibly smart and dedicated and their insights into building and racing the Polaris give a glimpse of what the future may hold. Putting one of these together and getting it to go as fast as 100 km/h is no mean feat. It’s sort of like hearing those tales of The Great Race and other marathons at the beginning of the fossil fuel car era.
Dozens of solar racing teams worldwide
Each of these races has dozens of teams with dozens of university students working on them and dozens of sponsors providing money, equipment and expertise.
7minutesolar has put together a page of updates from the teams competing in the American Solar Challenge. Why not take a few minutes to check it out and then visit the teams’ websites or social media. It is fascinating and inspiring.
Check out more Solar Sunday and WindPower Wednesday Photos of the Day.
Click on the photograph captions to get the background story on any pic.