Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students have built an advanced solar powdered car which they are calling “Eleanor”. The students are entering the car in the World Solar Challenge in Australia later this year. This will be the 10th World Solar Challenge as well as the 10th different car design MIT students have submitted. The first year of the race was back in 1987.
The car has twenty square feet of silicon solar panels which produce about 1,200 watts. The car only weighs about 500 pounds and is aerodynamically designed. The car is able to reach upwards of 80 miles per hour and drive up to 200 miles at night.
The students believe one of the keys to the vehicle is the battery pack. George Hansel, who is a physics major at MIT, stated: “Our battery pack is composed of more than 600 cells from laptop batteries. They are lithium-ion cells and they give us an equivalent of about 6 to 7 times that of a normal car battery but is only twice to three times as heavy.”
A student of mechanical engineering at MIT, Fiona Hughes, stated: “Using just power from the sun, Eleanor can cruise without draining power from her battery pack at about 50 miles per hour. It we were draining power out of the pack we would be able to reach higher speeds, possibly 70-80 miles an hour.”
The World Solar Challenge will be a seven day, 1,900-mile race across the Australian outback. More precisely, the vehicles will be racing from Darwin to Adelaide. The last race had 41 vehicles involved, however the number racing in this upcoming October has not yet been determined.