Students at MIT and Cambridge University have developed solar cars that will both compete in the 2009 World Solar Challenge in Australia in September. The World Solar Challenge features solar cars streaking across 2,000 miles of the rough Australian Outback.
The MIT students have created the Elanor solar car, ironically named after the gas guzzling Ford Mustang in the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds.” The 500 pound Elanor is aerodynamically designed as are most solar cars of this nature and is using new technology created by the MIT team.
Across the Pond, as they say, students at Cambridge University have developed their own Bethany solar car. Both Bethany and Elanor use about the same amount of energy that it takes to operate a blow dryer.
The Bethany solar car can cruise at around 60 mph top speed, is made of light weight materials and has a 6-meter square solar skin. The Cambridge team has developed improved battery management and control systems for the vehicle.
Bethany uses an upgraded lithium polymer battery and an electric motor that boasts 85-percent efficiency. While not powerful enough to compete head on with electric cars, both Elanor and Bethany may provide technology to be used in some upcoming models of electric vehicles.