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Stanford University Solar Car races Coast-to-Coast down under

As a group of eager Stanford students awaited the announcement that would detail this year's engineering challenge, chatter among the group predicted that 2013 would be most formidable to date. And, being some of the best and brightest, it should come as no surprise that they were correct.

The mission they were given was to design, build, and pilot a racecar that could compete against some of the top racing teams on Earth. Not only must this vehicle survive, but it would have to win a transcontinental endurance race straight through the heart of the Australian Outback. And, there was the kicker: their racecar would have to complete the entire 1850 mile voyage on less than one gallon of gas.

Surprisingly, this absurd fuel restriction was the only part of the challenge that did not raise an eyebrow. It was actually expected. Because these students are the Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. and their mission is the Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.. And everyone in this contest knows that being the fastest without a drop of gasoline is the only path to victory.

An important distinction between a solar racecar and conventional automobiles is that a solar racecar stores its potential energy electrically. This allows sunlight to be converted into mechanical energy in real time. The energy used by an internal combustion engine does begin and end in the same forms but, since the potential energy is stored chemically, the conversion process takes hundreds of millions of years.



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July 2013

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