University of Calgary

Solar car

May 10, 2011

Schulich Axiom tours Alberta

By Jennifer Sowa

Mico Madamesila, Schulich Axiom driver, takes the car for a spin around campus. Photo by Riley BrandtMico Madamesila, Schulich Axiom driver, takes the car for a spin around campus. Photo by Riley BrandtOver the next few days, Albertans will be able to catch a glimpse of the futuristic Schulich Axiom solar car as it makes its way around the province for the second year in row. The eight-day trip is a chance for the University of Calgary Solar Team to road test the vehicle and train drivers in preparation for the team’s next major international event. This time, it’s the World Solar Challenge (WSC), a solar car race through the Australian Outback in October.

Since finishing sixth out of 18 teams in last summer’s American Solar Challenge and winning an award for the car’s mechanical systems, the students—the majority from the Schulich School of Engineering—have spent months radically improving the Schulich Axiom with the goal of finishing first at the WSC. The team reconstructed the top shell, installed all new solar cells, redesigned the seat and reduced the car’s total weight from 272 kg (600 lbs) to 160 kg (353 lbs).

"All of our changes have reduced the weight of the car by nearly half. By integrating the solar cells into a new, lighter top shell, we’ve also improved the car’s aerodynamics,” explains Jeff Wickenheiser, project co-chair and engineering manager. “These changes have made the car faster and more energy efficient, allowing us to be more competitive on a global level.”

Jeff Wickenhieser and Christie Goss are members of the Solar Team. Photo by Riley BrandtJeff Wickenhieser and Christie Goss are members of the Solar Team. Photo by Riley Brandt The Solar Team visits a number of Calgary schools throughout the year to teach students about alternative energy and sustainability. In order to give students outside Calgary a chance to see the car for themselves, the team has scheduled several stops along the Schulich Axiom Alberta Tour route:

May 9, 11:30 a.m. Stettler Elementary School—Stettler
May 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Telus World of Science—Edmonton
May 11, 11:45 a.m. Aurora Elementary School—Drayton Valley
May 12 1 p.m. Fox Run Middle School/Ecole Mother Teresa—Sylvan Lake
May 13 1 p.m. Ponoka Elementary—Ponoka

Because of WSC regulations, the team removed nearly 2,000 space-grade solar cells that were used in last year’s American Solar Challenge and switched to 250 silicon solar cells, which are more durable and much cheaper.

“Million dollar cars just aren’t practical and they don’t reflect what can be done with the technology that is widely available,” says Brandon Heenan, project co-chair and business manager. “Using this type of solar cell makes the WSC a game of engineering and innovation.”

Get regular updates and a map of the Schulich Axiom Alberta Tour route at www.calgarysolarteam.ca.




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