Solar cell

Sunswift unveils sexy new Solar Powered Race Car

Sunswift the University of NSW Solar Car team has unveiled their new entry for the  2013 World Solar Challenge being held in October.

Sunswift-Eve-Unveiling - Credit Sunswift

Sunswift Eve Unveiling – Credit Sunswift

The new solar-powered 5th generation car, named eVe, will compete in the 3000 kilometre race from Darwin to Adelaide which runs every second year and attracts international competitors.  The eVe is refreshingly car like and nothing like your typical Solar Challenge cars which look like cut down single person pizza boxes on wheels.

Nuna solar powered car, which has travelled up...

Nuna solar-powered car, which has travelled up to 140km/h (84mph). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The car is entered in the Cruiser Class which requires theability to carry a driver and passenger (both facing forward) and provides the ability to recharge overnight which is a pretty good use case for a Solar car in real life.

It has solar panels on its hood and roof, and a yellow-racing stripe along the side. If you could combine this sort of approach with the Transparent Solar Cells produced recently by MIT researchers this could turn into a reality.

Transparent Solar Cells PRV - Credit MIT

Transparent Solar Cells PRV – Credit MIT

Luminos — Stanford’s Solar Car

Luminos — Stanford’s Solar Car (Photo credit: P.S.Lu)

This goal of the Michelin Cruiser Class is not speed but practicality, with the ultimate goal of an entrant being able to meet the requirements for road registration in the country of origin.

This is fantastic news as it gives me an opportunity to post pictures of awesome cars. I love car porn and it seems to me that for a pre-production prototype the Sunswift eVe actually looks pretty good up against some of the worlds most admired cars.


Sunswift eVe Front Quarter - Credit Sunswift

Sunswift eVe Front Quarter – Credit Sunswift

Lamborghini Front Quarter -Credit

Lamborghini Front Quarter -Credit

The goal was to create a more “human-friendly” car, said mechanical engineering student Sam Paterson, the project manager.

“We wanted to create the sort of car you could drive anywhere, all while keeping the design cool and producing zero emissions,” he said. “We think this car is a symbol for a new era of sustainable driving in Australia.”

The Sunswift team that designed and built the car is composed of undergraduate business and engineering students from UNSW. It’s the team’s fifth solar racer since being formed in 1996 by its original members.

Lamborghini Gallardo Rear Top - Credit

Sunswift Rear – Credit Sunswift

Lamborghini Gallardo Rear - Credit

Lamborghini Gallardo Rear – Credit

In 2011, Sunswift’s fourth generation car set a world record, becoming the fastest solar-powered vehicle, reaching a top speed of 88 km/hour. It was the team’s second world record so its likely this one will be faster but the team have not officially released any data on speed or range.

Sunswift Eve Front Top - Credit Sunswift

Sunswift Eve Front Top – Credit Sunswift

The team raised more than $27,000 through a Pozible crowd funding campaign earlier this year, and say the extra money will help them compete against teams with bigger budgets from universities such as MIT and Stanford.

Lamborghini - Credit

Lamborghini – Credit

The car will hit the road for the first in September for track testing before heading to the Northern Territory for the race.

It’s not hard to see this sort of car morphing into a working prototype, maybe the guys at Lamborghini can tap Sunswift for their technology and implement it into their prototypes.

In my opinion it has more is a great step forward to bringing solar-powered cars to reality. I know that initially this will take time but it looks like a real car and can apparently do a decent speed. Given most trips in urban areas are probably no more than 50km per day, running this with an overnight charge from a Solar Panel on your roof makes a lot of sense to me. Imagine a situation where you pay nothing to run your call.

I have already converted over to rainwater and now get $ zero bills for water, (cant tell you how good that feels),  I am planning to convert to solar with a big bank of batteries sometime in the next year to get free of the grid and inevitable price rises that will continue indefinitely. To be able to covert my car to solar or electric/hybrid would get me free of the 3 major cost of living increases for the last 20 years and for the foreseeable future.

Awesome job guys, hope this turns into something much bigger for the team.




Sunswift Eve Side-Credit Sunswift

Sunswift Eve Side-Credit Sunswift

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UCLA scientists double efficiency of flexible solar film

Transparent Solar Cells PRV

Transparent Solar Cells PRV – Credit UCLA

Nearly doubling the efficiency of a breakthrough photovoltaic cell they created last year, UCLA researchers have developed a tandem-structure transparent organic photovoltaic (TOPV) device which is a two-layer, transparent solar film that could be placed on windows, sunroofs, smartphone displays and other surfaces to harvest energy from the sun.

Whilst the new cells only convert a small amount of energy compared to the leading technologies (7.3% vs 44%) their flexible transparent properties mean that they potentially could be applied to just about any glass surface as well as building walls, vehicle panels and other areas not suitable for normal rigid panels.

Solar Panel Efficiency Comparisions

Solar Panel Efficiency Comparisions Credit Wikipedia Commons

The new device is composed of two thin polymer solar cells that collect sunlight and convert it to power. It’s more efficient than previous version, because its two cells absorb more light than single-layer solar devices, because it uses light from a wider portion of the solar spectrum, and because it incorporates a layer of novel materials between the two cells to reduce energy loss.

Researchers led by Yang Yang, the Carol and Lawrence E. Tannas, Jr., Professor of Engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, said the new cells could serve as a power-generating layer on windows and smartphone displays without compromising users’ ability to see through the surface. The cells can be produced so that they appear light gray, green or brown, and so can blend with the color and design features of buildings and surfaces.

“Using two solar cells with the new interfacial materials in between produces close to two times the energy we originally observed,” said Yang, who is also director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. “We anticipate this device will offer new directions for solar cells, including the creation of solar windows on homes and office buildings.”

The tandem polymer solar cells are made of a photoactive plastic. A single-cell device absorbs only about 40 percent of the infrared light that passes through. The tandem device — which includes a cell composed of a new infrared-sensitive polymer developed by UCLA researchers — absorbs up to 80 percent of infrared light plus a small amount of visible light.

Chun-Chao Chen, a graduate student in the UCLA materials science and engineering department who is the paper’s primary author, said using transparent and semi-transparent cells together increases the device’s efficiency, and that the materials were processed at low temperatures, making them relatively easy to manufacture.

Other authors of the study were Gang Li, a staff researcher in the materials science and engineering department at UCLA; Jing Gao, a materials science and engineering graduate student; and Letian Dou and Wei-Hsuan Chang, graduate students in the UCLA materials science and engineering department and the California NanoSystems Institute.

The research was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Office of Naval Research and EFL Tech.

The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, established in 1945, offers 28 academic and professional degree programs and has an enrollment of more than 5,000 students. The school’s distinguished faculty are leading research to address many of the critical challenges of the 21st century, including renewable energy, clean water, health care, wireless sensing and networking, and cybersecurity. Ranked among the top 10 engineering schools at public universities nationwide, the school is home to eight multimillion-dollar interdisciplinary research centers in wireless sensor systems, wireless health, nanoelectronics, nanomedicine, renewable energy, customized computing, the smart grid, and the Internet, all funded by federal and private agencies and individual donors.






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