In this article, Nature tells us about the American Solar Challenge (ASC), in which cars are using "Sun's energy for race along US Route 66."
The historic US Route 66 is set to host a futuristic convoy. Starting on Sunday, 30 solar-powered cars will hit the road for the American Solar Challenge, the world's longest Sun-fuelled race.
The latest solar cars will cover nearly 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometres) from Chicago, Illinois, to Claremont, California. The ten-day, biannual event is "an epic journey", says race director and solar-vehicle expert Dan Eberle.
The race aims to inspire student engineers and promote solar power. Solar cars are currently impractical and expensive -- costing around $200,000 apiece -- but energy from the Sun can also power offices and homes.
Rules are simple for the all-student teams.
A car with a single crew member is allowed up to eight square metres of solar panels plastered over its sleek body. Competitors race for ten hours each day and cannot break the US speed limit. The team that covers the route in the shortest overall time wins.
Here are two photographs coming from the ASC Photo Library (Photo credit: American Solar Challenge).
Here is the University of Arizona's team, happy after successfully passing the brake test on July 9.
And here is the Western Michigan University's solar array made with Emcore gallium arsenide cells.
The Michigan team is one of three that are gambling that the power gained from an extra four square metres of solar panels will offset the weight of a second person on board. Their car, christened SpectrUM, weighs only 410 kilograms including driver and passenger, and has a top speed of 120 kilometres per hour.
Please read Nature's article for more technical details.
And if you want to follow the race in real time, please visit the American Solar Challenge website.
Source: Helen Pearson, Nature , July 11, 2003
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