In 2009, Cambridge University students had high hopes when they designed The Bethany, a solar powered vehicle, to compete in the World Solar Challenge across the Australian outback. Unfortunately, the team came 14th in the epic 1,800-mile race due to being sidelined by a bad battery. But they aren’t giving up – they’re prepping the Endeavour, version 2.0 of the Bethany solar car, for the race in October and it looks like it could be a winner!
The original vehicle was covered with 6 m2 of solar cells and only weighed 170 kg. It was equipped with a battery management control system, an energy generating braking system and an energy-efficient hub motor. But Alisdair McClymont and his team are making modifications to the old model. “We had quite a good car, but it wasn’t reliable enough. We’ve made a lot of modifications to ensure it is reliable. Our goal is to finish as highly as possible.”
They started by replacing the 5-kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery pack with a 4-kilowatt-hour lithium–iron phosphate unit which is heavier, but cheaper and more robust.
“The battery won’t be a problem this year,” McClymont said confidently.
The team will face tough competition however. They will be up against the defending champions from Tokai University in Japan and the Nuon Solar Team of Delft University, the Dutch team that won the four previous races. Good luck guys – do Blighty proud!