|The Sunswift III in Sydney traffic.|
The University Of New South Wales Solar Racing Team’s (UNSW) solar car Jaycar Sunswift III broke the world record for the fastest solar powered road trip from Perth to Sydney by three days.
The team, which includes 11 students, the solar car and three support vehicles, left Perth’s Scarborough Beach at 8am on Wednesday 10 January. For 5.5 days they traveled about 700 km (435 miles) per day, averaging speeds of between 70 and 80 kph (44 to 50 mph).
When the original record was set 25 years ago, the trip took 20 days. UNSW attributed the improvement to 10 years of research and development along with advances in solar technology, aerodynamic design and materials. The current solar array of UNSW Sunswift III produces a peak power output of about 1,800 watts. Four different solar arrays were built for the prior solar car UNSW Sunswift II. The maximum power output of these arrays ranged from 1,000 to 1,500 watts.
The car uses a 3 phase, 40 pole DC brushless motor built by the team and developed by the CSIRO. The motor is built into one of the rear wheels of the car, eliminating any losses from having chains, etc. to drive the wheel. It has an efficiency of about 98%. The motor is also capable of regenerative braking.
The car uses a 6kWh lithium-polymer battery pack to store energy for when higher current is required by the motor. This is needed when it is cloudy or when the car is going uphill, and it is also used to even out the speed during the day. The battery pack stores enough energy to allow the car to travel about 500 km (310 miles) at 80 kph or 300 km (186 miles) at 100 kph (62 mph). The range depends on the speed of the car and the terrain.
We have demonstrated with Jaycar Sunswift III that the future of transport is not with 100-year-old technology, but rather with innovative thought, light materials, efficient electric drive and solar power.—Yael Augarten, Project Leader of the UNSW Solar Racing Team
In its press release announcing the record, the UNSW team noted that Australia’s top selling car, the Holden Commodore, is now less fuel efficient than the Model T Ford from the turn of last century.
Trends such as this only worsen the climate change problem evidently failing to be addressed by manufacturers, consumers and government alike.—UNSW Solar Racing Team
The University Of New South Wales Solar Racing Team website