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Going Down Under to catch some rays

<p>The University of Calgary Solar Team is headed Down Under, hoping a new and improved car that runs on the sun’s rays will help it come up with a win.</p>

U of C taking solar car to Australia



Darren Krause/Metro Calgary


U of C solar car team member Cassidy Silbernagel sits in the crew’s new vehicle for an international race in Australia.





“A real challenge has been design.”






The University of Calgary Solar Team is headed Down Under, hoping a new and improved car that runs on the sun’s rays will help it come up with a win.





The team competed in the World Solar Challenge in 2005 and placed first in its class, despite a late construction start and a lack of funding.





Now the team will traverse the Australian Outback, travelling 3,000 kilometres from Darwin to Adelaide in 40 C heat for the 2007 Panasonic World Solar Challenge being held from Oct. 21 to 28.





The new car will have a revamped design, which was one of the main goals of the team for this year’s contest.





“A real challenge has been design,” said chief engineer Shawn Zwierzchowski.





“We had to throw out plans six months in and start over. We wanted to be confident that our design was something very innovative that maximized the efficiency of the car.”





Some of the new features on the 2007 Solar Team model is the upright seating and improved steering wheel, which makes the car more intuitive to drive.





A new lithium battery system has been added that carries 100 times the battery power of a laptop computer. And with the same solar cells NASA uses on the International Space Station, energy efficiency has been drastically improved.





Along with a win in the trans-continental race, the Solar Team also wants to spread the message about sustainable energy in Calgary.





Plans are underway to tour the car around area schools to share the technology and an environmental message with youngsters.


 
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