Tokai University & Panasonic come 2nd in World Solar Challenge
Tokai University Solar car team – powered by Panasonic HIT solar cellsÂ – has been awarded second place in the 2013’s World Solar Challenge, Challenger Class.Â Held in Australia, the WSC is one of the world’s biggest races for solar cars, and takes place over the course of eight days finishing on October 13, 2013.Â Teams from around the world, including universities and corporations, participate in the race in cars powered solely by sunlight.Â The rules allow only 5kW of stored energy and the rest must be powered by the sun.Â The challenge is a time-based competition over a distance of 3,021km from Darwin in the north down to Adelaide in the south, crossing some of the most grueling territory in Australia’s outback centre.
Tokai were just minutes behind the leaders at the final checkpoint before they ran out of power as the clouds rolled in – they finished in an impressive 36 hours, 22 minutes averaging 82.43km/hour.Â Only 10 cars completed the race, with 10 pulling out.Â Teams race until 5pm each day and then bush camp by night. Only basic maintenance – clearing of debris and tyre pressure maintenance is allowed.
The Making of the ‘Tokai Challenger’
Panasonic HIT Solar Cells
Panasonicâs HIT solar cells are ideal for solar cars competing in races such as the WSC, given that the WSC regulations limit the total area of solar cells installed on the body to up to six square metres, and that the cells will be exposed to the scorching Australian sun.
The cellsÂ have a unique hybrid configuration with a crystalline silicon wafer substrate surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers. Compared to ordinary crystalline silicon solar cells, they suffer less degradation of power output at high temperatures, delivering the industryâs highest-level energy output per unit of area.
The HITÂ® solar modules for the Tokai University team are purpose-built for the solar car race, using the same solar cells that are mass- produced for the residential market. The rechargeable batteries provided by Panasonic are the cylindrical 18650 type (18mm in diameter x 65mm in height) high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells which use the companyâs proprietary nickel-based positive electrode. The high-capacity and lightweight battery cells store excess power generated by the HITÂ® solar cells so that the car is able to continue running even on overcast days.
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