Innovative teamwork fueled by the sun’s energy

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Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 10:07 pm

After winning the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix, Solar Vehicle Team moves forward with new design

The solar car reached a top speed of 65 mph at the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix where the OSU Solar Vehicle Team won first place this summer.

OSU’s Solar Vehicle Team challenges students to address areas of energy management, aerodynamics, fabrication and high-tech materials.

After the big win, Andrew Shelton, team leader and a junior in electrical engineering is currently designing a new solar car.

So far, the body and shell design have been mapped out. The car is to be a two-seater and have a four-wheel design.

“Hopefully by the end of next term, the team will have the body constructed and the chassis built (by winter break),” said Shelton, one of the two people working on the design for the new solar vehicle.

Shelton became involved with the solar car team when he was a freshman. He showed up with interest and a desire to learn. One his first day, Kathy Han — who jointly created the team — placed a dermal in Shelton’s hands.

“Cut this carbon fiber this way,” Shelton recounted. Since then, he has remained an active part of the team.

The design of the machine used to laminate the solar cells is Zeno LeHericy’s design. LeHericy is a junior in industrial and manufacturing engineering, The team receives the squared bare silicon solar cells. The cells are soldered together and then laminated into individual modules.

Each one of the modules produces a little bit of power, but when the entire array of modules are combined, it produces the amount of energy needed to drive a car.

The winning solar car from this summer runs off only one kilowatt, which is equal to the amount of power it takes to run a hairdryer. Theoretically, the car can drive 80 mph.

“If we drive like bats out of hell, we’d probably get closer to 100 miles off the battery pack,” LeHericy said.

The OSU solar car team built the car from the ground up, with its construction run entirely by OSU students.

It boasts a titanium frame that holds everything together and a carbon fiber body. Because of the lightweight design, it will drive up to 200 miles on a full battery pack, if the car is driven conservatively.

The first solar car was built in 1995. This project brought Ph.D. students Hai-Yue Han and Kathy Han close together. After they built another solar car, the two married.

There’s no restriction to who can be on the team.

“We really have members from all over the disciplines, everybody from geologists to engineers,” said LeHericy. “If you’re willing to learn, we love to teach.”

Dacotah-Victoria Splichalova

Science reporter

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