Monday, November 24, 2008

Back from the race, back to work.

The University of Kentucky Solar Car Team has made some great progress since returning from the 2008 North American Solar Challenge. Initially focusing on recruiting efforts, we participated in several K-Week activities at the start of the Fall semester, including leading a parade through campus. In addition to great publicity for the car and the team, we have attracted over 30 new team members to join our efforts.

Gato del Sol III leading a parade.

We have had several opportunities to share our car with the public, including:
  • Karl Shannon's 8th Annual Cruisin' for St. Jude car show
  • Engineering Homecoming weekend
  • Big Blue Goes Green Sustainability Fair
  • Bluegrass Green Expo
Public officials from the Commonwealth were curious about Kentucky's only solar-powered car, as well. During BBGG, Lexington's Mayor Newberry got to check out Gato 3, and Governor Steve Beshear took our car for a spin during his visit to campus.

The team is currently in the design phase for our next car, Gato del Sol IV. We have over 40 students working hard on eight different project teams. This includes two Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design (ME411/412) groups. We also have increasingly strong faculty support from our advisors, Dr. Scott Stephens and Dr. Vijay Singh, to help review our design decisions.

With the support of the College of Engineering we have obtained new Gallium Arsenide solar cells from EMCORE. These cells are approximately 26% efficient, compared to the 18-20% efficiency for our previous cells. This is a significant investment in the future of UK Solar Raycing, because it allows us to generate more power from a smaller, lighter car.

Our new solar cells!

The plan for Gato 4 is to participate in the 2010 North American Solar Challenge (NASC). We are also conducting a feasibility study for participation in the 2009 World Solar Challenge (WSC). This race, which will take place in Australia in October of 2009, is a high-speed sprint across the continent, whereas the NASC relies more on weather and energy strategy. This would be UK's first attempt to compete in the WSC.

We are always looking for new sponsors; without their support, we would not be able to participate in this great learning experience. Gato del Sol III was made possible by:
  • Belcan and Ralph G. Anderson
  • Hydro Aluminum
  • Stone Farm
  • Sunpower
  • Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, North America
  • UK College of Engineering
  • UPS
We are currently in talks with a few new financial, process, and material sponsors. This will help us with composite materials, shell molds, chassis and suspension parts, and electronic components.In addition, our Adopt-A-Cell program has returned. This allows anyone to support the UK Solar Car Team through a $50 donation, which pays for one of our 2000 GaAs solar cells.

If you are interested in supporting the UK Solar Car Team, please contact us at:

That's all for now. From our team to yours, we hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Nick Such
University of Kentucky
Solar Car Team, General Manager