The Purdue University Solar Racing team’s solar-powered urbancommuter car achieved the equivalent of almost 2,200 miles per gallon in the 2011 Shell EcoMarathon international competition this week in Houston.
The Celeritas prototype can handle a full-sized driver seated upright in a car equipped with headlights, taillights, a trunk, energyregenerative braking, pothole-handling suspension and rearview backupcameras.
The car, equipped with five onboard computer systems, generated somuch electricity it was in jeopardy of overloading its onboardbatteries. Subsequent versions of the car may include anair-conditioning unit to make it even more comfortable and to consumeexcess electricity. The team is applying for a VIN number and licenseplate to make it a street-legal experimental vehicle.
Team president Ted Pesyna, a senior from Indianapolis, said thestudents couldn’t be more pleased with their results in what was theirfirst year competing in the urban division.
"We have clearly demonstrated the feasibility of an electric car that requires no burning of fossil fuels," Pesyna said. "Thousands of hourswent into creating this machine but it is so worthwhile when the results show that we will eventually be able to move beyond oil for ourtransportation needs."
The team is drawn from an array of undergraduate programs includingmechanical, electrical and computer engineering and aviation technology. It spent one year designing the $90,000 prototype and one year building it. The effort is funded largely through contributions fromcorporations and several Purdue schools and colleges.
Image: Ted Pesyna, at left, president of Purdue Solar Racing, and Brian Kelley, a junior in computer engineering and member of the solar-car team, show their new vehicle, Celeritas. [Photo Credit: Andrew Hancock, PurdueUniversity]
[Story written by Jim Schenke, Purdue University]