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Nuna wins solar race in record time

29 Sep 2005

The solar car Nuna 3 wins the 2005 World Solar Challenge in a record-breaking time and average speed.

The Nuon Solar Team and its car Nuna 3 have won the 2005 World Solar Challenge in a record-breaking time. The team covered the 3021 km course from Darwin in the north of Australia to Adelaide in the south in a time of 29 hours, 11 minutes and posted an average speed of 102.75 kilometers per hour (kph).

This is the third consecutive win for the Dutch team, who posted a record time of 30 hours, 54 minutes when it won the last World Solar Challenge in 2003. As well as posting its record-breaking time this year, the Nuon team is the first to record an average speed of over 100 kph for the event.

Nuna 3 is covered with approximately 9 square meters of triple junction gallium arsenide solar cells. Purchased from Emcore, the cells are said to have an efficiency of 26%. As well as using these high-efficiency solar cells, the Nuon team says it has made a significant number of improvements to its car compared with its predecessors.

"Changes include new aerodynamics, lower weight (189 kg), better batteries, better solar cells, better strategy and telemetry system, new suspension, nitrogen filled tires - actually everything about the Nuna 3 has improved compared with the Nuna 2," Jorrit Lousberg, Nuon Solar team leader told Optics.org. "The only thing that has lasted from the previous two cars is the motor!"

The 2005 challenge got underway in Darwin on Sunday 25 September. Apart from compulsory stops at seven checkpoints, each team travels as far as it can each day but must stop to make camp by 5 pm each evening. Nuna 3 crossed the finishing line on Wednesday 28 September.

This year's event attracted 23 cars from 10 countries including first-time entries from Belgium and Iran.

Next across the line was the Australian car Aurora in a time of 32 hours, 35 minutes and an average speed of 92 kph. The third placed car was Momentum from the University of Michigan closely followed by Japan's Sky Ace Tiga and Taiwan University's Formosun.

The Nuon Solar team consists of 11 students from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The team has put together a cross-section of its Nuna 3 car, detailing different aspects of the design. See Related Links (above right) where you can download a larger version of the image.

Jacqueline Hewett is technology editor on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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