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Science Technology

World Solar Challenge Set To Begin 78

Mdog writes: "The world championship of solar car racing is about (Nov. 18...ok so I can't wait :) ) to begin Down Under. World Solar Challenge pits high school, university, and corporate teams against each other in a race across Australia's Outback, from Darwin to Adelaide." Mdog supplies some more (ahem) non-partisan information about the race below.

"My Alma Mater's team (which took second in the American Solar Challenge...go UMR!) is looking to take sweet revenge on the evil (*g*) that is the U-Michigan Solar Car team (which won ASC.) Some other North American heavyweights will be Queen's University and U-Waterloo from the frigid north. I'll defer to Ozzies post links to their favoUrite college teams, which, along with the Japanese teams, are often very good. Lastly, watch out for team Solar Motions; out for blood after major technical problems two years ago. Their array is should I put this...a lot :)

I went two years ago, and this year I'll just be looking forward to this article getting posted on /. *sigh* Good luck and good sun to all the teams. No worries!"

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World Solar Challenge Set To Begin

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  • 1434 km (Score:2, Informative)

    by brokeninside ( 34168 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:30AM (#2553256)
    The distance is right on the web page
    Saturday 17/11 Registration and Scrutineering at Alice Springs

    Monday 19/11 DAY 1 Alice Springs to Erldunda 199 km
    Tuesday 20/11 DAY 2 Erldunda to Marla 252 km
    Wednesday 21/11 DAY 3 Marla to Coober Pedy 233 km
    Thursday 22/11 DAY 4 Coober Pedy to Glendambo 253 km
    Friday 23/11 DAY 5 Glendambo to Port Augusta 289 km
    Saturday 24/11 DAY 6 Port Augusta to Quorn 116 km
    Sunday 25/11 DAY 7 Balaklava to Adelaide 92 km
    TOTAL DISTANCE 1434 km
    Regulations of the 2001 World Solar Cycle Challenge, 6.2 The Course []
  • Re:Good to see this (Score:5, Informative)

    by pmc ( 40532 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:51AM (#2553339) Homepage
    Could it be that the big oil interests have no interest in a cheap efficient environmentally friendly source of power ?

    You have to wonder sometimes when good technology is ignored, is there some sort of hidden oil-company aganda ?

    And this got labelled informative? Sheesh.

    Here [] you can see a list of solar cell manufacturers - at least two oil companies (BP and Shell) are on it.

    Here [] is a view from the EU about the future of big business in photovoltaics.

    Here [] is an account of Shell's involvement in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen power in general.

    Here [] is an account of some of Shell's involvement with biomass power generation.

    Here [] is an overview.

    Still, no doubt these will be dismissed with a "Yes, but apart from the solar cells, the fuel cells, the biomass research, the wind energy, and forestry, what have the oil companies ever done for renewable energy?".
  • Re:Good to see this (Score:2, Informative)

    by Phoebus0 ( 446231 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:58AM (#2553365)
    This race has been around since the late 80's, before fuel cells were even viable as an energy source. Nowadays, this race exists to promote creativity and thinking for team and to advance the technology of alternative-fuel vehicles. How much fuel do you think you'd save if your car was super-strong and only weighed 800 lbs.?

    Plus, fuel cells produce electricity. If more efficient ways are created of using that electricity, so much the better. I've had a part in a few American-side solar races, and usually, the oil companies want nothing to do with them, since it does have the potential of affecting their bottom line. The poster from Sunrayce '93 was a picture of a solar car driving right by a gas station. To bad the humor was lost on most..
  • Re:No Survivors (Score:3, Informative)

    by danjerdanjel ( 519284 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:04AM (#2553397)

    Actually, they're safer than that..

    Usually the battery packs are kept compartmentalised from the rest of the shell so that they can't spill onto the driver. There is also usually at least two driver's egresses built into each car (even if that egress means kicking out the bottom of the car).

    The crashes that do happen are usually brought under control very quickly. The brakes on these things are usually quite good, and the cars are usually able to be salvaged (and of course the drivers are generally safe).

    As long as the team is aware and treats their drivers nicely (there are some horror stories about, for example, seatbelts being tied to the chassis of the vehicle bit a couple of bits of wire), then the cars are actually quite safe.

  • No, yes, and maybe (Score:5, Informative)

    by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:38AM (#2553530) Journal
    I happen to be a member of the Yale Solar Car team - Team Lux. So needless to say I've studied solar cars quite a bit. So...

    NO: Solar cars today are an experiment in engineering, not a solution to your everyday commuting needs. We can get relatively high speeds and drive all day, but the cars are very wide and long, flat, only hold one medium-to-small person (barely) and are limited by the environment.

    YES: Any electric car could easily be supplemented by the addition of a high efficiency array. It wouldn't provide enough power to drive the car all day like we do with the current crop of cars, but since most people only drive their cars about 2-4 hours a day it could help a lot, and could be a real lifesaver if you ran out of power. OTOH, even a well designed commuter car is going to be much heavier than our solar cars and have much less array area. What would make the most sense is for all carports to have arrays on top that could store and transfer energy to the cars parked under them.

    MAYBE: I don't know that electrical cars or fuel cells are the (near) future. Chemically propelled cars can potentially be much simpler and more efficient, since they aren't losing power through the extra electrical storage/transformation. And you can make fuel using solar power (you already were with the fuel cells). And until efficiency actually matters and the big-ass SUVs get off the road, it just won't be safe for extra-lightweight cars.

    BTW, the plane thing has already been done with the Helios project. And you're right, it has a lot of potential.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.