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Solar Challenge car stars at show



Engineering innovation and cutting-edge green tech will be highlights of the SA Solar Challenge exhibit at the Rand Show’s Science & Technology Hall for the next ten days.

The SA Solar Challenge puts engineering to the test, tasking the country’s young engineers to build solar cars that can cover thousands of kilometres in an eight-day staged event from Pretoria to Cape Town with just sunshine in the tank.

The Solar Challenge team from North-West University (NWU) is bringing its futuristic solar car, the R1.5m Sirius X25, to the Rand Show.

Designed by a multi-disciplinary team of students from NWU’s Faculty of Engineering under the guidance of team project manager Professor Albert Helberg, the NWU solar car Sirius X25 is an aerodynamic masterpiece. Weighing just 208 kg without the driver and 4.5 m long, the Sirius X25 has lower wind resistance than some of the best sports cars in the world. While it typically travels at 80km/h on level terrain, it can reach speeds of 140 km/h. And it does all this while consuming less energy than a standard household light bulb, running off nothing but sunlight.

The Sirius X25 will be carrying South Africa’s hopes with it when it competes in the biennial World Solar Challenge that takes place in Australia in October 2015. The Sirius X25 and the NWU team are one of only two teams to have entered from Africa, putting the continent at the starting line for the first time ever in the world challenge. They’ll be driving some 3 000 km from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Adelaide in South Australia.

The Solar Challenge team will be presenting talks at the Rand Show on the Challenge, solar technology and solar cars, presenting specifically to school groups if requested. There will also be a model of a full-size solar-powered sedan car, and an interactive display of an electric motor to show how an electric vehicle works.

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