NINE of the forty vehicles slated to compete in this year’s World Solar Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide are using a highly efficient electric motor designed by CSIRO.
In the last event in 2005, only three teams had ‘the CSIRO advantage’.
The motor, which sits inside the wheel, was designed about ten years ago for Australia’s Aurora 101 solar car.
Aurora 101 raced in three of the World Solar Challenge events, winning in 1999 and coming second in 2001.
Now touted as the word’s most successful solar car, it is racing again this year.
Dr Howard Lovatt, part of CSIRO’s original design team at CSIRO’s Materials Science and Engineering said that it was not a matter of a lack of competition for the motor but more a matter of timing.
“People have been trying to design a better one, but it’s been ten years and they just haven’t been able to do it,” he explained.
CSIRO’s motor is the most efficient in solar racing at 98% efficiency (converting 98% of its fuel – electricity generated from sunlight – into useful power).
It’s also extremely light: the whole wheel – tyre, motor and all – weighs 14.5 kgs. Other in-wheel motors used in solar racing typically have energy efficiencies of less than 95% and weigh twice as much, not including the wheel and tyre.
For more information contact CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering:
Howard Lovatt firstname.lastname@example.org or Paul Gwan email@example.com.