On Thursday, Oct. 29, the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team completed the
World Solar Challenge in Australia, finishing in second place in the
Silicon category — cars racing with off-the-shelf, terrestrial-grade
silicon solar cells — and fifth place overall among 25 competitors.
team raced their newest vehicle, Eleanor, a total of 3,021 kilometers
from the northern city of Darwin to Adelaide in South Australia, in
five days. Eleanor is the 10th solar vehicle that the MIT Solar
Electric Vehicle Team has built and raced since 1984. The vehicle’s
performance in this year’s competition ranked among the team's best
Designed and built by the SEVT in 2008 and 2009, the
car, weighing 430 pounds without a driver, is a fully solar-powered
electric vehicle built from high-tech composites and containing the
state-of-the-art in power electronics.
Power is provided by an
array of six square meters of silicon solar cells that outputs a
maximum of 1200 watts — less than most hairdryers. Despite this, the
car with a driver can maintain highway speeds throughout the day. The
array charges a battery pack designed by Genasun, a company founded by
a SEVT alumnus, composed of 551 extremely high energy density
lithium-ion cells donated by Panasonic. The pack is able to power the
car without recharging from Boston to New York.
The MIT Solar
Electric Vehicle Team is a student-run organization that designs,
builds, tests, and races a solar vehicle on a two-year design cycle.
Consisting mainly of undergraduates, the team competes in domestic and
international competitions. The SEVT operates with the support of its
sponsors, including Infinesse Corp., MIT's Edgerton Center, Ford, and