For the fifth time, students of the Technical University Delft have won the World Solar Challenge in Australia. The competition takes the participants from Darwin to Adelaide, a race of 3000 kilometers from North to South Australia. The Japanese team Tokai Challenger took second place. The car that is the fastest to drive the route across Australia is the winner. The organisers of the World Solar Challenge aim to spur the research on solar-powered cars.
Supercharging solar concentrators
The winning solar car Nuna7 uses concentrator solar cells, a supercharging technology with the world’s highest conversion efficiency. Through a panel of lenses, solar light can be bundled and heavily focussed on tiny solarcells. A disadvantage of the concentrator technology is that they can only be used when standing still. The Nuon Solar Team therefore needed to stop every 300 kilometers for half-an-hour supercharging time.
About the World Solar Challenge
According to the website of the World Solar Challenge, solar cars that compete in the race are allowed a nominal 5kW hours of stored energy, which is 10% of that theoretical figure. All other energy must come from the sun or be recovered from the kinetic energy of the vehicle. These are arguably the most efficient electric vehicles in the world.