Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic UniversityFirst racing solar car in Russia: Polytech Solar Team story

First racing solar car in Russia: Polytech Solar Team story

A student engineering team “Polytech Solar” of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University designed and constructed a solar car for participating in solar challenge competitions.

The potential of solar energy, as the largest and most accessible to humanity, has always attracted the attention of the scientific community. In recent years, the use of solar energy has been widely spread. At the same time, the idea of designing the car that can overcome long distances using only solar energy is extremely evolving.

The first solar car race was the Tour de Sol in 1985 which led to several similar races in Europe, US and Australia. Such challenges are often entered by universities to develop their students' engineering and technological skills.

Participating in such projects as student engineering solar teams is a great opportunity for students to put knowledge into practice, gain skills and take part in fascinating races where team members present results of their efforts.

Solar car racing competitions are held each year. The world's most well-known solar-powered car race event is “World Solar Challenge”. Its goal is to overcome the distance of 3022 kilometers in the minimum time. According to the rules, it is allowed to start the race with a full battery charge, but along the way it can only be charged by solar energy. Also solar challenge races take place in USA, South Africa, Chile, Belgium and Japan.

The history of the Polytech Solar Team started in 2016. A group of students were involved in Formula Student project, where students designs an open-wheel racing car. They decided to use gained experience and skills to create the first racing solar car in Russia and represent the university and the country at international Solar Challenge competitions.

In the summer of 2018, after 2 years of hard work the solar car had been successfully presented at Formula 1 track “Sochi Autodrom”. The European Le Mans Series 2014 winner David Markozov drove two laps and he was pleasantly surprised by the quiet and smooth driving of the car. Then the car went on a long journey to United States to take part in “American Solar Challenge 2018”.

In US, the competition includes three parts: a technical inspection of the car, qualification and the endurance race of 2866 km at public roads. Technical inspection consists of static and dynamic tests aimed to ascertain safety of a car. Qualification is a circuit race, where a car is required to drive 330 km in one day or 495 km in two days to show its readiness to withstand the endurance event.

Polytech Solar team had confidently passed the technical inspection, and started the qualification. On the second day of qualification after around 350 km covered the team faced mechanical problem with the motor – its shaft was cracked. Due to the efforts of mechanical and motor engineers of the team the trouble was resolved, and the next day morning the car was ready to continue the race.

Judges of the competition appreciated the diligence of the team and gave it the “Best first time car award”.

Polytech Solar Team is now preparing the car for new events and eagerly waiting to compete at Solar Challenge.

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