Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Give Us Bigger Solar Panels, Say Racers

Vehicles in this year's solar car race from Darwin to Adelaide could go much faster if officials would allow bigger solar panels, a participant says.

The Veolia World Solar Challenge will begin from Darwin tomorrow, when 39 teams representing 21 different nations take off for Adelaide, more than 3000km away.

Many cars taking part in the challenge will cruise at over a little over 100km/h, but one participant said they could go much faster if the rules were relaxed.

Aurora Vehicle Association chairman Andris Samsons said the cars themselves were "incredible pieces of machinery".

"In fact our particular car, Aurora Evolution, on the racetrack is capable of nearly 160km/h for short periods of time," Mr Samsons said.

"Every year technology improves, and for the past several challenges the race officials have progressively tightened the capacity of the batteries or the size of your solar panels or the technology that can be used in either the solar panel or the batteries, to make sure that the cars stay within reasonable speeds on the Stuart Highway.

"We are capable of building a car that actually could travel well in excess of the speed limit given a big enough budget or enough time to build it."

A race spokeswoman said that since 2007 changes were brought in to reduce the size of the solar panels, so cars travelled at safe speeds on the Stuart Highway.

Prior to 2007, the Northern Territory had no speed limit on open roads and major highways. The speed limit is now a maximum of 130km/h on the Stuart Highway, with lower speeds allowed during parts of it.

Yesterday, many teams were putting their vehicles through their paces at Darwin's Hidden Valley raceway.

Rachel Kramer from the University of Michigan's team described the event as "the premier solar car race in the whole world".

"This is the big race that we focus on," she said.

Stefano Moglio from Italian team Onda Solare said on the speed circuit his car, nicknamed Emilia 2, had only gone to 80km/h, but it could go much faster on the open road.

"We have 11 gears and we were using just the fifth one," he told AAP.

SOURCE: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/give-us-bigger-solar-panels-say-racers/story-e6frg6nf-1226167321240

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