• Jan 12th 2011 at 9:58AM
  • 12
Late last week, the Australian-built solar racer, Sunswift IV, officially captured the title of the world's fastest solar-powered vehicle. Designed by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Sunswift IV – known as IVy – smashed the previous record of 79 kilometers per hour (49 miles per hour) by posting a 54.7 mph run. A UNSW spokesman said there could be another record set soon: "We've beaten the record by 10 km/h (per hour) - it reached a speed of 88 km/h - and we think we can get it over 90 km/h."

Powered solely by silicon solar cells that capture energy from the sun, the IVy, driven by Barton Mawer, hit the pavement at the HMAS Albatross naval base at Nowra on New South Wales' southern coast. At its record-setting speed, the IVy cranks out approximately 1,200 watts of energy. In a race back in 2009, the IVy hit a top speed of 103 km/h (64 mph), but that run was unofficial and, therefore, not logged in the record books.

[Source: What's on Ningbo, Sunswift]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      There will never be enough surface area on a practical, standard size car to collect enough solar energy to run it at highway speeds even if they could achieve 100% efficiency of the panels. Having said that, it is an interesting, if totally impractical design, displaying their engineering skill. The desirable thing about PV is once amortized, it is free energy (until the government figures out how to levy exorbitant licensing fees.)
      • 8 Months Ago
      I wonder why it doesn't look like a hummer. perhaps aerodynamics is really important. and low weight. who knew
      • 8 Months Ago
      Congrats to NSW Uni for the achievement.
      • 8 Months Ago
      And you can play ping-pong on it too!
      • 8 Months Ago
      Yeah... Unless there's some specifics not mentioned, this is nowhere near the speed record. Delft's Nuna5 and Michigan's Infinium have both reached speeds over 90mph. I am a team manager for the University of Kentucky's car, and even our car reached 60mph during ASC last summer.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why does their website not list Cd in the vehicle specs? I feel like that's something you'd want to include/brag about on a fact sheet...
      • 8 Months Ago
      I don't get it. I thought there were already solar cars that can achive up to 150 km/h..

      For example this one:

        • 8 Months Ago
        The top speed you mentioned was achieved using battery and solar power. For the Guinness record, the battery was removed and the car accelerated using only the solar array.
      • 8 Months Ago
      These solar cars are completely irrelevant. Universities (including mine) have been producing these solar cars for 20 years with only incremental improvements. Same aerodynamic but impractical shapes. Same unstable 3-wheel layouts that put the majority of the weight on a single rear tire. Most of the races aren't won by the most efficient vehicle, they are run by the team that has the fewest stops for breakdowns and tire-blowouts.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "Most Solar Cars are built by university teams so provide hands on education to trainee engineers."


        So many of the armchair theoreticians on internet blogs continually underestimate the value of a practical hands-on project.

        Aside from learning specifics regarding solar PVs and EV drivetrains, these sort of competitions also teach leadership skills and group relationship dynamics that are even more invaluable than the particular technical details. These students are learning to work together for a common goal - something these internet discussions sometimes dismiss ("...their research takes money from my research, so they're bad people!")
        • 8 Months Ago
        But if you can impregnate the bodywork of regular cars with solar panels and then trickle charge the batteries with this over a full day in the sun, then the range boost can be significant, in the order of 10 km a day. Once mass production starts and costs drop... This may become a reality even sooner if those customers with extra cash to spend want to get such features in their EV's for the sake of doing something cool like that.
        • 8 Months Ago
        These cars are NOT completely irrelevant.

        The Tesla Roadster has a direct link to the original Solar Car, the GM Sunraycer, as the engineers who designed the Tesla powertrain did their apprenticeship on the power electronics in Sunraycer.

        Most Solar Cars are built by university teams so provide hands on education to trainee engineers.
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