Flying Dutch claim victory for the 7th time in the World Solar Challenge
Author: Helen Nolan
Every two years the World Solar Challenge welcomes the greatest minds from all over the world to come to Australia for the 3000-kilometre (1,860 mile) solar car race. Roaring across Australia’s outback from Darwin to Adelaide, these efficient electric vehicles challenge the norms by running on solar power charged up during the day. Tertiary and secondary students and their support teams race in vehicles engineered and built with their own hands, powering across challenging and unforgiving desert landscapes with unpredictable weather conditions.
This year’s winner for the 7th time was the dominant Dutch team “Nuon” who crossed the finish line mid-afternoon travelling at an average speed of 81.2 kilometres per hour. Despite the cloudy skies (ideally the sun would shine for the whole 3000-kilometres) they took the lead early in the elite Challenger class, which features single seat aerodynamic vehicles built for sustained endurance and 100 percent energy efficiency.
Of the Australian competitors there are two that have made recent news; sedan “Violet”, built by the UNSW’s Sunswift team of engineers, may look like a family sedan but only uses as much power as a four-slice toaster. That said, Violet was built for speed and endurance with a top speed of 130 km/h and a range of 800km running on her rooftop solar panels. Weighing in at only 380kg (due to a twill carbon-fibre monocoque chassis), Violet has an energy efficient drag coefficient below 0.2, better than the best wind-cheating cars on the market. Winning aside, the Sunswift team’s ultimate goal has always been to design and build a car that can meet road registration requirements in Australia.
The second solar car making news is the two-seater ‘Cruiser Class’ solar sports coupe built by Brisbane Company Clenergy Team Arrow. Recently launched in Queensland with a top speed of 150km per hour, it may be the world’s first commercially available solar-powered car (orders are already coming in for a customisable version) able to travel 1000km before needing recharging. As a possible game-changer for the passenger vehicle market, the solar sports coupe has the potential to not only boost Queensland’s economy through new products, services and jobs, but also reduce the $4.2 billion spent each year by Queensland households on petrol by as much as 90 percent.
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Author: Helen NolanHelen pursues philanthropic endeavours that underpin her desire to care and nourish. She loves all creatures great and small and is thrilled to be writing for Planet Ark.
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