Students from the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) will compete with teams from top global institutions such as Cambridge University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the World Solar Challenge this year, in their third attempt at the biennial solar-powered car race.
A group of 30 students and teachers from the engineering discipline of IVE spent around 12 months to develop a new iteration of the institute’s solar-powered car as they prepare for the race scheduled for October 8-15.
The vehicle, named SOPHIE VI, is 25 percent lighter than the previous fifth-generation car and can reach a maximum speed of 110km per hour, according to news website hk01.com.
The World Solar Challenge, held once every two years by the tourism agency of South Australia, requires participants to complete a journey of 3,000km from Darwin to Adelaide within six days in a vehicle powered only by the power of the sun.
Peter Tang Siu-sing, vice principal at IVE’s Tsing Yi campus, said the aerodynamic design of the SOPHIE VI and a suspension system made from magnesium has helped bring down the weight of the vehicle by two-thirds from the previous edition which was made from aluminum alloy.
The lightweight body will help achieve better energy efficiency.
The IVE team believes SOPHIE VI is the most energy-efficient solar vehicle in Hong Kong, Headline Daily reports.
Having slashed 300kg of weight from the previous edition, the car can be powered by the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power a household 1,300A blowdryer.
SOPHIE VI will have to withstand the desert weather, with temperatures easily above 40 degrees Celsius.
Leung King-on, an IVE higher diploma graduate who has been tasked with driving SOPHIE VI in the upcoming contest, said it is common to run into special circumstances, such as a whirlwind, during the race.
IVE’s sixth-generation solar car has a flat top, which is specially designed to minimize chances of the shield being ripped off by strong wind. The carbon fiber material used was also vigorously tested under severe temperature of 120 degrees Celsius.
The IVE team came fourth in the 2013 edition of the competition and it finished eighth overall in 2015.
Asked about the chances of winning a trophy this year, IVE lecturer Billy Chow Man-hon, who was part of the production team of SOPHIE VI, said the most important goal is to complete the race.
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