'Eleanor' the Solar Race Car
The 2009 World Solar Challenge, taking place in Australia from October 25th to 31st, will see some of the most efficient solar vehicles in the world compete in a seven day, 2,000 miles race from Darwin to Adelaide. One of the competitors will be Eleanor, the new electric race car by MIT's Solar Vehicle Team.
Read on for more details about this amazing solar machine.
Cutting Edge Green Vehicle Technology
"It pushes the technology from the books to real life," said Spencer Quong, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It opens the industry's eyes to how to build a more efficient vehicle."
For those who don't believe that, know that part of the team working on the GM Volt plug in hybrid worked on the Sunraycer in the late 80s. That solar car was so good at the time that it finished the race a whole 3 days ahead of its competitors!
"GM execs were impressed enough to greenlight the Impact concept car, which became the groundbreaking EV1 electric car. GM famously killed the EV1 in 2003, but the car lives on in the Volt, which is slated for production by the end of next year."
MIT's Solar Racer Technical Details
MIT's solar team entered its first race in 1987, and Eleanor is its 10th car. A change in the rules requiring drivers to sit upright instead of stretching out makes Eleanor taller than earlier cars but no less aerodynamic. The team spent six months designing the body before fine-tuning it in Ford Motor Company's wind tunnel. The result is a super-slippery drag coefficient of 0.11
Eleanor has about six square meters of solar panels (cells made by Sun Power inc.) with a capacity of 1,200 watts. Electricity is store in a 6-kilowatt-hour battery pack (693 lithium-ion cells), and the electric motor produces 10-hp. The whole car weights under 500lbs.
Racing speed should be around 55 MPH, but in theory, Eleanor should be able to do 90 MPH (with a 10-hp motor! That's aerodynamics for you). We wish the MIT SVET the best of luck in Australia. Careful not to hit any kangaroos.
Photos: MIT's Solar Electric Vehicle Team
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