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University of Michigan Wins the American Solar Challenge

June 30, 2010

Photo of a low, flat vehicle covered with solar panels, cruising along the road.

The University of Michigan's solar car cruises into first place in the American Solar Challenge 2010.
Credit:University of Michigan

The University of Michigan again won a major U.S. solar car race, winning the 1,200-mile 2010 American Solar Challenge by crossing the finish line in Naperville, Illinois, on June 26 with an elapsed time of 28 hours and 14 minutes. The winners cruised in more than two hours ahead of the team from the University of Minnesota. A car from Germany finished third. Michigan has now won this event and its predecessors six times. Overall, 17 teams, including two teams from Canada and Taiwan, registered for the event. For the competition, students designed and built the vehicles, which rely on solar power that can be stored in batteries for use during cloudy days. After a series of qualifying events, the racing began under sunny skies on June 20 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The winning entry from the Wolverine State weighed 700 pounds, with its carbon fiber body covered by Emcore solar cells and the solar-generated electricity stored in A123 lithium-ion-phosphate batteries to help power an in-wheel electric motor.

Previously known as Sunrayce, the American Solar Challenge is now sponsored by the Innovators Educational Foundation (IEF), a non-profit organization that was formed in the fall of 2009 to continue the tradition of solar car racing, which began in 1993. IEF also hosts the Formula Sun Grand Prix, a solar car track event. See the American Solar Challenge Web site and the Michigan solar car team Web site.

The summer solar racing season continues with a high-profile race for high school teams. The Hunt-Winston School Solar Car Challenge is set to begin on July 18 in Fort Worth, Texas. Racers head north through Oklahoma to Boulder, Colorado, for a planned July 25 finish. More than 20 teams from nine states registered for the event, which is designed to boost student interest in science and engineering. The gathering began in 1993 at the Winston School in Dallas, Texas. See the Hunt-Winston School Solar Car Challenge Web site.

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Content Last Updated: 01/25/2010