Vicor helps Stanford Solar Car Project Cross the Australian Outback

November 4, 2013
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stanford university solar car in the Australian outbackStanford University students have been competing in solar car races for two decades, and this year they achieved their best results ever, thanks in part to Vicor power components.

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is the most ambitious race in the world for cars powered by solar energy. Competitors have to race 3000 kilometers (1864 miles) across the Australian Outback in just five days. This year Luminos, the car developed by the Stanford Solar Car Project, was placed fourth: the best ever finish for the university and the highest-placed undergraduate team in the competition.

Designing solar cars presents an enormous number of engineering challenges from reducing rolling resistance to cutting weight. Perhaps the most important factor is maximising the electrical power system, from the panels that collect the sun’s energy to the motors that drive the wheels. One factor is the efficiency of the DC-DC converters used in the system, and this is why the Stanford Solar Car Project chose Vicor component power solutions.

Vicor converters help improve the performance of the car in other ways, for example their light weight and high power density. They are also exceptionally rugged: a critical factor when just one component can destroy a team’s chances in the competition. Luminos has proved so reliable that there was not a single failure on the car during the race, despite it having raced more than 3,000km.

stanford university solar car sun 16 numberplateNot all systems have to operate in the challenging environment of the Australian Outback, but almost all systems benefit from reduced weight, increased power density and improved efficiency. Find out more about the power components that help make solar cars a reality today.

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