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Dutch students on track to build world's fastest solar car

Monday, August 08, 2011 - 02:15

Aug. 8 - Using carbon fibers and tailored drivers' suits to make their car even faster than in previous years, a team of Dutch students is preparing for Australia's solar race hoping to win. Jim Drury reports.

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These Dutch undergraduates are testing what they hope will prove to be the world's fastest solar car. Their Nuna 6 model is taking part in October's biannual World Solar Challenge, a gruelling, 3000 kilometre race from one end of Australia to the other. Previous Nuna vehicles have a proven track record, as team leader Pier van Zonneveld is happy to point out. SOUNDBITE (English) DUTCH SOLAR TEAM LEADER, PIER VAN ZONNEVELD, SAYING: "The car you can see next to me is Nuna 6 and we already made five Nunas and with these we participated in bi-annual solar race in Australia and we won four out of five." The students have gone to great lengths to give themselves every competitive advantage. SOUNDBITE (English) DUTCH SOLAR TEAM LEADER, PIER VAN ZONNEVELD, SAYING: "In the beginning of the project we measured every team member and the best team members compared to each other, measurement-wise, were selected to be the drivers of the car and the car was designed around them. For instance, width of the hips are very important for design of the car and that's what we mainly selected on." Dutch company DSM built the one-seater with special carbon fibres and a brand new resin. DSM chief innovation officer Rob van Leen. SOUNDBITE (English) DSM CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER, ROB VAN LEEN, SAYING: "With a unique combination of our terrain resin and special carbon fibres, we were able to increase rigidity for 25 percent and therefore this new Nuna 6 has ten percent less drag than its predecessors and as a consequence of that it has less vibrations and goes faster." The World Solar Challenge is ultra competitive, with dozens of international teams from technical universities and colleges competing. Cars will cross Australia from North to South, starting in Darwin and finishing in Adelaide. Solar panels on the cars' roofs capture the sun's energy and convert it into electricity. The technology isn't without problems. The cars can't store enough power to travel more than short distances when not in direct sunlight. But with each year, the solar power systems are improving and as the race nears, the Nuna 6 team say they're preparing for victory and yet another day in the sun. Jim Drury, Reuters

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Dutch students on track to build world's fastest solar car

Monday, August 08, 2011 - 02:15

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