Sleek new MIT solar car heads to the races

Feb 25, 2009 David Chandler
The new car, called "Eleanor," is taller than earlier versions and thus allows a much more comfortable upright seating position for the driver. With six square meters of monocrystalline silicon solar cells and improved electronic systems and design, the car can run all day on a sunny day at a steady cruising speed of 55 mph. Photo / Chris Pentacoff, MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team

MIT's Solar Electric Vehicle Team, the oldest such student team in the country, has just finished construction of its latest high-tech car and will be unveiling it to the public this Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. in Lobby 13.

The new car, called "Eleanor," is taller than earlier versions and thus allows a much more comfortable upright seating position for the driver, who was in an almost supine position in earlier models. But despite the 30 percent greater frontal area of the vehicle, the new car has exactly the same drag area -- a measure of its wind resistance -- as the team's older one, thanks to some very sophisticated aerodynamic design and wind-tunnel testing.

With six square meters of monocrystalline silicon solar cells and improved electronic systems and design, the car can run all day on a sunny day at a steady cruising speed of 55 mph. The car will be competing in October in the World Solar Challenge race across Australia, and in preparation for that the team plans to drive the car across the United States over the summer. About a dozen team members are expected to go to Australia for the race, although only four will drive the solar car in the competition.

The new vehicle is also equipped with wireless links so that the lead and chase vehicles during the race will be able to monitor every aspect of the car's electrical performance in real time. Its batteries have enough energy, when fully charged, to get the car from Boston to New York City without need of sunlight.

David Sanchez, a senior in Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics who is the aerodynamics lead for the team, has been working on the project for more than two years. "There's no better project for a young guy who wants to do aerodynamics, all the way from conception to design to construction," he says.

Fiona Hughes, a senior in mechanical engineering and business manager of the team, says the experience has also been valuable for the process of "making decisions as a team that satisfy everyone," and adds that being a member of the team "opens doors" in the business world. "I'm interested in working in the area of alternative energy in transportation," she says, and working on the team has helped her toward that goal.

Provided by MIT

Explore further: Philips introduces BlueTouch, PulseRelief control for pain relief

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers use liquid inks to create better solar cells

19 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The basic function of solar cells is to harvest sunlight and turn it into electricity. Thus, it is critically important that the film that collects the light on the surface of the cell is designed ...

Recommended for you

Nanoscience makes your wine better

17 hours ago

One sip of a perfectly poured glass of wine leads to an explosion of flavours in your mouth. Researchers at Aarhus University, Denmark, have now developed a nanosensor that can mimic what happens in your ...

Fly ash builds green cement mixture

17 hours ago

An eco-friendly cement, known as Alkali Pozzolan Cement (APC), containing a mixture of fly ash, dry lime powder and sodium sulphate under specific scaffolding conditions has been developed by Curtin University ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

John_balls
not rated yet Mar 02, 2009
Sweet, can Gm,toyota , ford and or any other car company mass manufacture one of these so I can go buy one.

Can we take what's going to be the 100billion that is going to the big 3 and build a new company that manufactures similar type cars?