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The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2010-06-01 16:00:00
  • Article ID: 565180

PrISUm Solar Car Team Prepares for June 19-26 Race from Tulsa to Chicago

  • Credit: Photo by PrISUm Solar Car Team.

    Members of Iowa State's Team PrISUm pose with the unfinished bodywork of Anthelion, this year's solar race car. Pictured, front row, left to right, are Chris Lopez, Evan Adkins, Cory Anderson, Chris Bergsneider, Nathan Humeston, Brian Bowersox and Evan Stumpges. Back row, left to right, are Wade Johanns, Zach Pope, Nate Kaiser, Pat Sanderson, Erin Kelly and Trevor Dobbs.

AMES, Iowa – It’s still parts and pieces spread across a campus garage, but the tenth sun-powered race car designed and built by Iowa State University students is already looking super efficient.

Just look at this, said Trevor Dobbs, a junior from Woodbury, Minn., as he picked up a shiny silver piece of the car’s suspension.

That suspension upright is “a very well engineered part,” said the materials engineering major and the assistant project director for Team PrISUm.

The uprights, which connect the upper and lower suspension arms to the wheel and axle assemblies, have six carefully hollowed sections through the middle. The idea is to shed as much weight as possible without sacrificing the strength of the part.

The same thinking has gone into just about every component of the two-year, $250,000 project, said Dobbs and mechanical engineering majors Evan Stumpges, a junior from Pauma Valley, Calif., and Shane Johnson, a senior from Panora, during a recent tour from part to part.

“Right now it’s a pretty great experience seeing all the parts we have been making coming together,” Dobbs said. “We’re very excited for the upcoming race. Every team has said this, but this is the best car we’ve ever built.”

The upcoming racing includes the Formula Sun Grand Prix, June 12-18 at the Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, Texas. That event is a testing and qualifying race for the American Solar Challenge, a June 19-26 race from Tulsa, Okla., to Chicago. Seventeen teams will compete, including 13 from the United States, two from Canada, one from Germany and one from Taiwan.

Team members like their new race car – named “Anthelion” after the rare luminous halo that sometimes appears opposite the sun – for a lot of reasons:

● They’ve taken the big step of switching from a four-wheeled car to a three-wheeler. Three wheels mean a lighter car because there are three sets of suspension assemblies instead of four. It means less rolling resistance on the road. It means the electric motor can be centered on the car, which improves balance and handling. And Johnson said it means a better aerodynamic shape and less wind resistance pushing against the car.

● They’ve shortened the aluminum tube chassis and found a way to fit the battery packs onto the car’s carbon fiber shell. The frame’s total weight is now less than 30 pounds. Stumpges said that’s about half the weight of the team’s previous frame.

● They’ve figured out how to use the super-light magnesium alloy wheels developed by a previous PrISUm team. The earlier team, however, had problems with the brittle alloy and problems mounting tires on the wheels. The current team has solved those problems with new, aluminum wheel mounts and a different finish on the wheels.

● The car’s 500-plus solar cells, battery protection system and electronics have been slightly revised to correct some glitches the 2008 team had to fix while on the road.

Dobbs said the team could go on and on about other “well thought-out systems” (thanks, in part, to extensive computer-aided design work).

But, he said, “It’s crunch time. And we definitely have a plan.”

The plan includes delivery of the last few parts. Final assembly. Sponsor logos on the trailer. Painting the car. Logistical planning. Rolling tests.

Then, after some long nights in their campus garage, it will be time for 1,100 miles of solar-powered, cross-country racing.

– 30 –

Major sponsors of the PrISUm Solar Car Team include the Iowa State College of Engineering, the Iowa Energy Center, Altium Limited, ANSYS Inc., Autodesk Inc., Boeing, Coastal Enterprises, Delta Air Lines and Harlow Aerostructures LLC.

Trevor Dobbs, Team PrISUm, (651) 230-5472, trevordobbs@gmail.com

Evan Stumpges, Team PrISUm, (515) 233-4924, stumpges@iastate.edu

Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917, mkrapfl@iastate.edu

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Cold and Bubbly: The Sensory Qualities that Best Quench Thirst

New research from the Monell Center finds that oral perceptions of coldness and carbonation help to reduce thirst. The findings could guide sensory approaches to increase fluid intake in populations at risk for dehydration, including the elderly, soldiers, and athletes.

J.R. Macdonald Lab receives nearly $8 million DOE grant renewal

MANHATTAN -- A nearly $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy is supporting the "bread and butter" physics research at Kansas State University's James R. Macdonald Laboratory. The grant is a three-year renewal award, "Structure and Dynamics of Atoms, Ions, Molecules and Surfaces." "This big operational grant is our bread-and-butter," said Itzik Ben-Itzhak, university distinguished professor of physics and director of the J.

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New Method for Reporting Solar Data

A straightforward new way to calculate, compile, and graphically present solar radiation measurements in a format that is accessible to decision makers and the general public has been developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and is described in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

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The South could pay less for its electricity in 20 years than is currently projected if strong public policies are enacted to spur renewable energy production and use, according to a report released today by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University.


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Citi Grant Helps University Students Succeed

Citi Community Development, part of the Citi family of businesses, supports an innovative Academic Success Program at South Dakota State University. The program is designed to help students who have been re-admitted to SDSU following suspension due to low academic achievement.

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Cornell Joins Team Taking Head-first Plunge Into Algae Biofuels

Cornell University researchers have joined other scientists and a biofuel research company on a mission to develop a commercial-scale algae-to-fuel facility by 2015. The effort is backed by a $9 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Engineering Researchers Partner With Toyota; DOE Grant Will Further Work Toward a More Efficient Charger for Hybrid-Electric Vehicles

A $3.9 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy will allow electrical engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas to continue contributing to the development of a compact and highly efficient silicon-carbide charger for hybrid electric vehicles. The benefits of the project extend beyond vehicles into other areas, such as wind and solar power, and could lead to reduced energy consumption in the United States.

Research Looks at Alternative Power for Military

South Dakota State University has a major role in a $10 million project to deliver alternative power technologies to help the U.S. military supply power to units in the field. The three-year project began in May 2009.

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Scientists and engineers from two of the nation's largest industries - medicine and energy - came together this week to explore the synergies in moving oil and pumping blood.

Time Ripe to Move Energy Storage Idea Off Drawing Board

Need has caught up with Case Western Reserve University researcher Gerhard Welsch's design for a self-healing, high-energy capacitor he patented a decade ago. ARPA-E has granted Welsch $2.25 million to start producing the small and lightweight device for hybrid and electric cars and more.

Registration Open for Sandia-Sponsored 4th International Conference on Integration of Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources

Registration is open for the 4th International Conference on the Integration of Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources, the premier event for technical discussion of electric integration of new energy resources.

Advanced Energy Conference To Illuminate Latest Technologies For 21st Century Clean Energy Economy

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