By Jennifer Sowa
On Feb. 1, the University of Calgary Solar Car Team unveiled the prototype of its fourth generation solar car, a radical departure from the group’s previous designs.
The Schulich Delta is roomier and more practical: there’s a passenger’s seat and a trunk that can hold two sets of golf clubs. The car has a number of new features: more efficient solar cells, four wheels instead of three, two motors, a touch-screen tablet for a dashboard and three times the battery power as the last car.
“We recognized the need to focus on building something that could benefit everyone and ultimately lead to mainstream use. So we decided to design a car that could conceivably work for regular commuters and also be a top racing competitor,” says Susanna Kubik, project co-chair and business manager with the University of Calgary Solar Team.
The move towards a more practical design presented new engineering challenges, which required more extensive design work and computer simulations.
“Because it’s a two-seater car, it’s naturally larger, heavier and less aerodynamic than our last model, the Schulich Axiom. The Axiom’s top speed was 130 kilometres per hour and we’re aiming to beat that,” explains Mico Madamesila, project co-chair and the team’s engineering manager.
The top speed of the car won’t be known until the team conducts road testing this spring. The Schulich Delta will operate on the same amount of energy it takes to power up a hair dryer. It will make its debut on the road in May during the team’s fourth annual tour of Alberta.
In 2011, the team raced the Schulich Axiom, through the Australian Outback in the World Solar Challenge. It placed 18th out of 37 teams from around the world and first among Canadian teams. The Schulich Delta will race in the 2013 World Solar Challenge in October.
The University of Calgary Solar Car Team is comprised of 47 students from the Schulich School of Engineering, Haskayne School of Business and the Faculties of Science, Kinesiology, Education and Arts.
Sponsors include the Antje Graupe Pryor Foundation, Schulich School of Engineering, ConocoPhillips Canada, Nexen Inc., BP Canada, the Haskayne School of Business and the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business, the Alberta Lottery Fund, Shell Canada, TD Friends of the Environment, ANSYS, SolidWorks and Oxeon.