It’s the end of May now and that means that the start of the World Solar Challenge 2011 is less than five months away! Just like in 2007 and 2009 I plan to closely follow this fantastic event, and report on it on this website.
Just like in previous years the solar cars have to travel 3000 km through the Australian outback, battling heat, wind, sometimes vicious rain, dust devils, cattle grids, road trains, technical problems, stress and the other teams. I was very happy to read this: “During the event satellite tracking will be in place for each vehicle so you’ll be able to follow each team as they make this great trip.”. In previous years it was often very hard to find out where the teams were in relation to each other, if the system works it should be much clearer this time.
Unfortunately the WSC website is not very up-to-date regarding the participating teams, which forces me to, just like in 2007 and 2009, spend a lot of time on the internet, looking for information about the teams. That is fun to do, but it takes up a huge amount of time.
The Nuon Solar Team keeps the body shape of their Nuna 6 a secret, but the blog tells us that they are already building the body of the car from carbon fibre. It’s designed to be even lighter than it’s already featherweight predecessor Nuna 5, which weighed 160kg. Although the Nuna 6 have not been revealed yet, it’s still fun to browse the technical data on Nuna, Nuna 2, Nuna 3, Nuna 4 en Nuna 5.
Having crossed the finish line in first place four times in a row, it must have been a disappointment when the Japanese Tokai University team took the first prize home in 2009. Nuon had bad luck with a nasty crash shortly before they left for Australia. I assume the team feels great pressure to take back that prize to the Netherlands.
The Solar Team Twente presents more information about their car on their website, but I cannot find a name of the car. Am I not searching hard enough?
The 2007 Twente One and the 2009 21Revolution were mechanically complex designs with a tilting solar panel and the use of Fresnel lenses to concentrate solar power. This year the team seems to have chosen for a more conventional design. The complex mechanics of the previous designs, both daring and risky, were more trouble than they were worth.
I was surprised to read the following (translated from Dutch): “The solar car with which the Solar Team Twente will participate in the World Solar Challenge 2001 is equipped with 6 m2 Silicon solar cells. These cells are made from the same material as the solar panels on roofs of houses. This marks an abandonment of the high-tech space-technology solar cells which had been the standard for years in the World Solar Challenge.”. The WSC 2011 rules state that when space-technology solar cells are used the total active area of the solar panel can be no larger than 3 m², while a surface area of 6 m² is allowed when normal silicon cells are used. The reason for this is probably to make participation possible for less affluent teams, because silicon cells are much cheaper. Teams will have to make choice this year!
Just like previous years it’s possible to adopt a cell on Solar Team Twente’s car. This supports the team financially. I have of course adopted a cell!
As was the case in previous WSC editions, there is one team from Belgium, the Umicore Solar Team. In 2009 this team was one of my favourites for first place, but a very heavy crash on the first racing day not only took that opportunity away but prevented them from finishing at all. Fortunately there was only material damage and no one got seriously hurt.
Reading their website, I can’t find out how their car is going to look or what it’s going to be called. The most recent I can find about it is and article artikel which shows three possible designs. When I read the website further I see they are actually building a car, so apparently they choose to keep both design and name secret for now. I’m curious if the Belgians chose the space tech cells or the silicon cells.
Anyway, I wish the Belgians all the best.
Just like the last few WSC editions the team from Hochschule Bochum makes the journey from Germany to Australia. Last year they even had two cars in the race, the Solarworld No. 1 and the BOcruiser, I think they’ll enter only one car this year.
With their current car, called BOGT, they seem to continue the road they started with BOcruiser, that is, a body design that much more closely resembles a normal car than all to other contestants. This way they want to make clear that electric cars, and maybe even solar cars, will become usable eventually.
The BOGT has two seats, normal doors and quite big windows, unlike all the other vehicles. Just like two years ago it’s very unlikely that this car will end at a high position, but that’s not the point for the Germans.
The German team chose a 3 m² solar panel with space tech cells.
I was unable to find any other teams from the UK.
According to the WSC website one of the teams from the US is team Principia Solar Car. It’s a bit odd that their website hasn’t been updated with recent information about the 2011 WSC at all. The latest update is from October 30th, 2009, right after the 2009 WSC.
Another American participant is the University of Michigan Solar Car Team. Reading the news section of their website it seems that they’re building a new car called Quantum of Quantum 2011, but it’s not very clear.
It looks like their car is completely finished, so they have lots of time to test and finetune it. The car’s name is Chopper del sol. It seems like they’re going to use the space tech solar cells, but I can’t be sure. The car looks quite compact, which would be logical if the solar panel can have a size of only 3 m².
There are teams coming from many other countries as well, like Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey and many more but because of a lack of time I can’t write a detailed overview of the status of every one of them. Of course I will create a list of all teams with their websites, Twitter-accounts, etc., like I did in 2009. If you want to know more about the World Solar Challenge, check back here every once in a while. I plan to very regularly update this website about developments around the WSC. During the WSC itself I’ll follow the event and post updates nearly around the clock (I’ve already taken a week off from work).
Finally, an interesting video (in Dutch, I’m afraid), made by the KLM, about the two Dutch Solar Teams.