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One of my other brothers, Ted's, son, Doug, is on the University of Michigan's Sun Racer team, which will be competing with their "Continuum" racer against 58 other entries from all over the world in the 3000 km race of solar-powered cars in Australia starting Sunday Oct. 21 (Saturday evening our time).

In past years, the UM entry lost to the Netherlands Nuon team, which had government support and vast funding, plus access to NASA quality solar cells. This year, the UM team also has NASA quality solar cells. Some claims are that they may be 35% efficient in converting sunlight to electrical power. They are able to handle increased heat from concentrators--basically lenses over the solar cells to concentrate more light onto them. I asked Ted if they used fresnel lenses, which need not be positioned perpendicular to the incident angle of sunlight. His reply was that the technology for their concentrators is "top secret," but he sent me a photo of one of the Netherlands teams entry, which clearly is using fresnel lenses and mirrors for concentrators. The photos of the UM solar racer sure looks like it could be using fresnel lenses.

In bench tests, the UM solar racer exceeds expectations in efficiency of conversion of sunlight to electricity, quickness of recharge time, amount of charge left over after tests. They have high hopes of winning it all this time. Now if only those bicycle tires don't blow out too often on those long stretches of pavement in Australia that use sharp pebbles in the pavement concrete.

My brother said he noticed that on the Stanford team's blog, they mentioned a hatred for the UM team. Ted sent a message asking why, and was told that they resented the UM team because they had more funding (easily ten times any other North American entry), plus an elitist attitude engendered by all that money. Of course, other teams with governmental backing (like the Netherlands Nuon team, and possibly Australia's team, have much larger funding than the UM team. But I think we all know the real reason why Stanford hates the UM team--they know UM is going to beat their socks off!

Like Ted said, "Go fast, go smoothe, go blue!"

Here is the link to the UM solar racer blog, which has many pictures of their solar racer, and others:
looks as if NASA quality solar cells unlike superior German made cells can't be fitted to arched surfaces, it's the same ancient design. Flat top with a small turret. Our "Solarworld", doesn't it look far more like a real car that could be on the roads soon?
Did you notice that the German entry looks vaguely reminiscent of a German soldier's helmet?

I think that what you are seeing are the fresnel lense concentrators--the solar power cells would be underneath. Fresnel lenses are flat. They refract light by means of a series of concentric groves.

A flat surface would probably be more efficient at collecting sunlight. A curved surface would always have a part that is away from the incident angle of sunlight.
Ron Lambert Wrote:Did you notice that the German entry looks vaguely reminiscent of a German soldier's helmet?

I think that what you are seeing are the fresnel lense concentrators--the solar power cells would be underneath. Fresnel lenses are flat. They refract light by means of a series of concentric groves.

A flat surface would probably be more efficient at collecting sunlight. A curved surface would always have a part that is away from the incident angle of sunlight.

You may be within your rights to believe this Ron, but like "Q" states, they are unlike superior German made cells, which can pick up light from reflections off the ground and other surroundings, attaining a better charge WITHOUT having to rely on direct sunlight.

I wonder why your nephew Doug and the rest of the science crew did not do their best to attain this 'edge' on the other contenders? Shock
Quote:Did you notice that the German entry looks vaguely reminiscent of a German soldier's helmet?

I think that what you are seeing are the fresnel lense concentrators--the solar power cells would be underneath. Fresnel lenses are flat. They refract light by means of a series of concentric groves.

A flat surface would probably be more efficient at collecting sunlight. A curved surface would always have a part that is away from the incident angle of sunlight.
looks rather like the helmets of bicycle time trials. Or luge racers. In the end, I guess, cars must rather be made according to the requirements of human anatomy and not those of flat solar cells. Here's a nice pic,

Seems they start in a different class,
Quote:The development and construction of the solar race car are determined by the new “Challenge Class” rules, which dictate that solar driven vehicles must clearly become more suitable for everyday use. This includes, among other things, requiring the driver to sit in a nearly upright position in the vehicle. In addition, only 6 m2 of active solar cells, instead of the previous 8 m2, may be installed on the race car.
I'm sure John appreciates the application of science in every day's life, and that the Solarworld racer is build by a company, while the American entry is still constructed by a university?
The UM Continuum solar racer has been involved in an accident. Here is the word from the UM solar racer website:

Oct. 20
Quote:In the first hour of racing today, Continuum has had an accident. Spencer Bailey was the driver of Continuum, and aside from a small scratch on his leg, he is perfectly fine. After the Stanford Solar Car Team passed our Team, they stopped abruptly, causing our lead driver to stop, and Continuum to hit our lead vehicle.

Stanford! They're the ones that mentioned in their website their dislike for the UM team!

Here is a later message posted on the UM solar racer website:

Oct. 21
Quote:Tonight will be a late night and we are currently installing new modules on the upper. The completed vehicle will be tested to ensure safety for the driver early tomorrow morning. We are confident the testing will prove the vehicle to be safe and able to continue down the Stuart Highway. Therefore we are treating tonight as any other race evening and will have our drivers in bed shortly. Tomorrow our race day will be begin bright and early with sunrise and we will have the car back on the road at 8am, the normal start time.

It is quite impressive to see the entire team come together immediately after the accident and all divisions have been helping with the repairs.
Following are some recent excerpts from the UM Solar Racer website, updating their experiences competing in the Word Solar Challenge, a 3000km race right through the Outback from the north coast (Darwin) to south coast (Adelaid) of Australia:

Sunday, October 21, 2007:
Quote:Overcoming Challenges:
After 24 hours of hard work, repairs to Continuum are complete! Scrutineering proved Continuum to be safe and reliable after the repairs. The Team began racing again at 8am this morning and has just arrived at the first control stop in Katherine around noon. They'll be charging the batteries for the next half hour or so. Spencer was the driver for the car. When asked if he was driving his response was "Well yeah, I didn't get to drive very long yesterday." We passed the 1st of 37 teams and hope to pass more over the course of the day! Continuum has performed similarly to before the accident thus far and we hope to continue through the Outback at our current pace.

Monday, October 22, 2007:
Quote:Day 1 Recap:
After one day of racing Continuum has gone approximately 600 km. Going into Katherine Continuum was performing as well as before the accident. On the trip from Katherine to Dunmarra we experienced problems with our electrical systems that we did not have time to troubleshoot during the 24 hours after the crash. While these slowed us down, we are still not far from Dunmarra and these should be fixed for racing tomorrow. The electrical division has benches lined up with all of their components, soldering irons, and laptops. They plan to fix the systems on the car before the night's end. Aerodynamically the car was entirely repaired and does not consume any more power than it did before. Mechanically the car seems to be completely repaired and is even performing better as we have yet to have a flat tire! There are 900 km until Alice Springs and 2 control stops. This should put us there early Wednesday morning.
Here is the latest update from the UM solar racer website:

Monday, October 22, 2007:
Quote:Tennant Creek Control Stop:
Continuum has just passed through Tennant Creek. The trip from Dunmarra was made without any stops along the way, indicating that the electrical repairs were successful! This control stop was only open for another 2 hours so Continuum arrived with perfect timing. So far this morning we have already passed around 10 teams!

The rest of the updates, plus pictures, maps, and other information, may be read at:
Have the passed Stanford, or the Germans yet?
Solarworld was fourth yesterday, the newsticker on their page didn't work when I looked it up a minute ago. They all had troubles the last days, cloudy weather and sandstorms. Every coverage of the race on every channel starts and ends with pics of the sleek Solarworld racer. :lol:
quadrat Wrote:Solarworld was fourth yesterday, the newsticker on their page didn't work when I looked it up a minute ago. They all had troubles the last days, cloudy weather and sandstorms. Every coverage of the race on every channel starts and ends with pics of the sleek Solarworld racer. :lol:

Oh, in that case that means they will not do well, I suppose. Usually the winner almost always manages to slip under the radar screen of the brilliant press.
Oct. 24, 2007
Quote:Day 3 Recap:
The Team is currently 45 km outside of Cadney Homestead. Today Continuum traveled a total of 700 km with an average speed of 82 km/hr. At Alice Springs, Continuum was in 7th place among Challenge Class vehicles and 16th overall. We were 11 hours and 24 minutes behind Nuon, 10 hours and 2 minutes behind Umicore, 9 hours and 40 minutes behind Aurora, 5 hours and 20 minutes behind Bochum, 4 hours and 26 minutes behind Twente, and 3 hours and 58 minutes behind Phoenix. Today we have gained 30 minutes on Bochum , 1 hour on Twente, and 50 minutes on Phoenix. Please keep in mind that we have had 10 hours and 2 minutes of down time from repairs during the first 2 days of the race.
Despite setbacks and only running on half of a battery pack's charge, Continuum is keeping pace with even the lead cars. In general, the crew is focused on regaining ground and is extremely proud to see Continuum making so much progress in such a short amount of time.
One of my brothers told me that the UM solar racer team expects to pass the Stanford team sometime today.

Earlier, someone on the UM team said they would like it to rain, because they feel with their solar car's superior light concentrators, it will do better in lower light levels than other entries. Of course, it doesn't often rain in the Australian Outback.
Following is the latest message on the UM solar racer blog:

Oct. 25, 2007
Quote:Brief Control Stop Update:
Continuum has just passed through the Glendambo Control Stop around 1:30pm Australia time. Based on the GPS data we seem to have made it there without any stops and we should be able to make it most of the way to Port Augusta before the end of the day!

We recently learned that the Stanford Solar Car Team was in a race ending crash. Our Team is very sorry to hear this given that we have had a very good relationship with their Team since the beginning of this project. We are very thankful to hear that no one was injured in the Stanford accident and hope that they are able to repair their car for the upcoming North American Solar Challenge!
Oct. 25, 2007
Quote:Day 4 Recap :
Today we started 1,977km into the race, 45 km north of Cadney Homestead. We had an astonishingly quick day through the Cadney and Glendambo Control Stops. We cruised at between 91 km/hr and over 100 km/hr, which is marvelous considering that we ended Wednesday with an empty battery pack. Continuum covered 720 km and reached Port Augusta with an average speed of 92 km/hr for the day. We had our first flat tire and were able to change that tire in less than 8 minutes! Continuum has made up nearly 2 hours on Twente, at least another hour on the Southern Taiwan Solar Car Team, and about one hour on Solar World. At this point we are in, at worst, 13th place overall in the race. With 280km left, we will be starting the day at the Port Augusta control stop, where we arrived at 5:08pm today. Nuon arrived at the end of timing but they have not gone through the finish, and to our knowledge no other teams have reached the end of timing. It was another great day of racing and we’re excited to have made up nearly 8 hours on our closest competitors. The Team coming out of this race is so very different from the one that started it. Spirits are unbelievably high and everyone is greatly excited about how Continuum has performed in the first 2700km of the World Solar Challenge.
Following is an Oct. 25 account from the Stanford race team blog detailing their accident with Equinox:

Quote:They feel that the left rear tire was starting to give out, resulting in the instability in the car. Eventually it blew, but the driver was unsure of what had just happened. Eric dropped out of cruise control mode, but lost control while braking. Equinox left a 100 meter trail of aluminum on the pavement where the wheel rim made contact. The car flew off the road and hit a concrete barrier, flipped over it, and landed upside down.

Eric is still doing fine today, though he is gobbling down ibuprofen to deal with his general soreness from the impact.

The car can still drive under its own power, but to take a line from Nader, it is now unsafe at any speed. Everything that was supposed to break to save the driver from damage is broken, and now there is nothing between the driver and disaster in the case of another crash.

We would like to extend thanks to the Michigan team, as well as all of the others that have extended both their sympathies and their offers of help to repair the car in Adelaide. Our team will be making all possible efforts to patch the car up and drive slowly across the finish line. Thank you.

We will come back and race again.
Oct. 25, 2007
Quote:Continuum Finishes!!
Continuum has now reached Adelaide and has successfully completed the 2007 World Solar Challenge! We completed the race in 46 hours and 3 minutes with an average speed of 65.09 km/hr. This puts us at 36 hours and 2 minutes not including the time lost from the accident with an average speed of 83.83 km/hr! Stay tuned for results as the Teams behind us finish the race! As soon as we hear from the race crew in Australia I'll get a more detailed update as well!

One poster to the website said:
Quote: Congratz guys. Continuum's the winner in my mind. (And for the second half of the race, Alice Springs -> Adelaide, word is that we have the fastest time!)
Oct. 26, 2007
Quote:Continuum Finishes 7th in Challenge Class
Continuum completed the last 280.7 km of the race in 2 hours and 55 minutes with an average speed of 96.7 kilometers[per hour]. Yesterday we ended with a negative battery pack and today we finished with more than half of a pack remaining. For the Alice Springs to Adelaide half of the race we averaged 89.8 km/hr and finished that section of the race only 16 minutes behind Nuon's time. We started this part of the race with well less than half of a battery pack, while they were given time to fully charge their batteries in Alice Springs. Continuum barely didn't catch up with 3 of the Teams directly in front of us and we should end up in 7th place in Challenge Class. Overall we passed over 25 Teams on our climb up after the accident. Continuum was the 4th Team to cross the finish line.

We've always been looking for a different finish than what we ended up with, but we are ultimately very happy with how Continuum performed. To us, the first half of the race demonstrates that we are the best Team in the world while the second half demonstrates that we have the best car in the world. A first place victory almost comes as an empty victory because it doesn't demonstrate how good the Team really is. Having rallied around the crash we were able to show the world how well we face adversity and how well prepared the Team was. As we crossed the finish line there were 25 friends and family members that had made the trip to Australia to watch the race and cheer us on. We were all happy that we could make them proud by completing this race the way that we did.

The World Solar Challenge has left everyone with a desire to continue racing Continuum. We all look forward to participating in the North American Solar Challenge, where we will have the opportunity to show the world what Continuum is truly capable of.

The Netherlands entry, Nuon (Numa4) came in first in the race, as it has for the past several years. Following is from the Nuna4 blog.
Quote:Nuna4 has crossed the finish line first in the 2007 Panasonic World Solar Challenge. At 16:54:00 Nuna4 crossed the time finish line, crossing the Australian continent in 4 days at an average speed around 91 km/hr.

After a partial rest day in Alice Springs, Nuna experienced a hard 3rd day of racing. After wearing 4 left tires, the team decided to completely rebuild the left suspension at the end of the racing day.

It obviously paid off, as the clear skies of our camp south of Coober Pedy in the naked and truly barren outback contributed to spectacularly clear skies. A extremely chilly night apparently did not deter the sun, as static charging during sunset and sunrise were more than 1.5 times better than expected. This contributed to Nuna's spectacular finishing day, consistently driving at or near the 110 km/hr speed limit, and finishing off the day in Nuna style. Hard crosswinds did cause another flat tire, but the results do not lie, as we finished far ahead of our nearest rivals.

Link for the Nuon blog:
How did everyone do?
I haven't found the overall listing yet. Nuon (the Netherlands first team) came in #1, and UM Continuum came in #7.

Here is a provisional listing, just of which cars physically have passed through the various control stops:


Nuon Solar Team at 2007-10-25 16:54:00
Umicore at 2007-10-26 09:13:00
Aurora Challenge at 2007-10-26 09:54:00
University of Michigan at 2007-10-26 11:33:00
FH Bochum Solar Car Team at 2007-10-26 11:52:00
Southern Taiwan University at 2007-10-26 13:21:00
Solar Team Twente at 2007-10-26 14:35:00

Heliox Solar Team at 2007-10-26 10:38:00
Helios at 2007-10-26 12:09:00
Team Sinag at 2007-10-26 13:56:00
Gwawr at 2007-10-26 17:29:00

Sunstang Solar Car Project at 2007-10-26 11:23:00
Team SolarFox at 2007-10-26 11:31:00
Leeming Senior High School at 2007-10-26 11:49:00
Queen's University Solar Vehicle Team at 2007-10-26 11:59:00
Sunspeed at 2007-10-26 12:59:00
U-Chile Conecta at 2007-10-26 13:18:00

Angle Vale
University of Calgary Solar Team at 2007-10-26 16:16:00

Port Augusta
University of Waterloo at 2007-10-26 17:00:00

Did not Finish
USB Solar at 2007-10-21 08:37:00


Ashiya University Solar Car Project at 2007-10-26 11:33:00
National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences at 2007-10-26 11:59:00
Aviva Southern Aurora at 2007-10-26 14:14:00

Port Augusta
Aurora Adventure at 2007-10-26 14:20:00
TAFE SA at 2007-10-26 15:02:00

Angle Vale
Stanford Solar Car Project at 2007-10-26 15:21:00
UNSW Solar Racing Team at 2007-10-26 16:11:00
Blue Sky Solar Racing at 2007-10-26 16:30:00

University Teknologi Malaysia at 2007-10-26 10:24:00
Esteban at 2007-10-26 11:10:00
Willeton ATP at 2007-10-26 11:11:00
HelioDet at 2007-10-26 11:25:00
Solar Fern Racing at 2007-10-26 12:14:00
Houston Solar Race Team at 2007-10-26 14:00:00

Hachinche Institute of Technology at 2007-10-21 08:31:00

Salesio Solar Car Project at 2007-10-26 12:38:00
University of Malaya Solar Team at 2007-10-26 13:20:00
Kormilda College at 2007-10-26 13:35:00

The above list is preceded by this caveat:
Quote:The information shown here represents control stop data and shows which vehicles are passed through which control stop. This is not the official time keeping list as certified by our time keeper and does not take any penalties into account. This page does not reflect actual time travelled. Further more, it shows the official departure time of each vehicle from a control and may have data entry errors.
Solarworld's racer finished fourth.

Solarworld builds USA's largest solar cell factory
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