Solar Powered Car From University Of Michigan

Besides the glitzy car manufacturers, one of the most interesting parts of the Detroit Auto Show 2008 were the solar cars from the University of Michigan.

The University of Michigan Solar Car Team is a non-profit, entirely student run organisation whose purpose is to design, finance, build, and race a solar-powered vehicle. They displayed two of their vehicles, the Momentum 2005 (1st place North American Solar Challenge, and 3rd place World Solar Challenge), and the Continuum 2007 (7th place World Solar Challenge – partly due to a crash).

University of Michigan Momentum 2005 Solar car

The North American Solar Challenge was founded in 1989 and is now a 2,400 mile race between Dallas, Texas and Calgary, Alberta. The World Solar Challenge is the premiere solar car race in the world and takes place in Australia for 1,800 miles. Changes in the rules, such as the number of solar cells allowed and the driver having to sit upright necessitated changes in design from the 2005 Momentum to the 2007 Continuum. You can see the new solar cells that use parabolic mirrors in the 2007 design below.

Traveling on public highways, the vehicles can reach up to 87mph, converting solar energy to electricity through triple-junction cells, structured in three layers to maximise sunlight. The power captured is stored in high capacity lithium-ion or lithium-polymer battery packs.

University of Michigan Continuum 2007 Solar car

For more informations, check out the University of Michigan Solar team website.

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