MIT unveils 90 mph solar race car

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Washington, Feb 28 (ANI): The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has unveiled a solar race car that does 90 mph (miles per hour) and is packed with technology that may end up in the hybrids and Evs (Electric Vehicles).

The university's Solar Electric Vehicle Team unveiled the 243,000 dollars (US) carbon-fiber racer dubbed 'Eleanor' and is shaking the car down to prepare for its inaugural race later this year.

"It drives beautifully," said George Hansel, a freshman physics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the team. "It's fun to drive and quite a spectacle," he added.

The team spent six months designing the body before fine-tuning it in Ford Motor Company's wind tunnel.

The result is a super-slippery drag coefficient of 0.11, making Eleanor more aerodynamic than a Toyota Prius, the EV1 or even the super-slick Aptera 2e electric car.

Aerodynamic efficiency is paramount to extending battery range, especially when you're dealing with batteries charged by the sun. Eleanor features 580 silicon solar cells manufactured by Sun Power.

They cover six square meters (about 64.5 square feet) and generate 1,200 watts. The power is stored in a 6-kilowatt-hour Genasun battery pack comprising 693 lithium-ion cells.

The battery weighs 32 kilograms (about 71 pounds) and provides sufficient range - even without sunlight - to get the car from Boston to New York.

Propulsion comes from a 10-horsepower hub-mounted motor driving the lone rear wheel.

"A three-wheel vehicle simplifies suspension design," Hansel said. "It's also traditional," he added.

Everything is packaged in a chrome-moly steel frame wrapped in carbon-fiber-and-Kevlar bodywork. The car weighs just under 500 pounds, and the top half of the body weighs just 40 pounds - with the solar cells.

Eleanor is slated to compete in the tenth World Solar Challenge, a seven-day race across nearly 2,000 miles of Australian outback.

The competition is a test bed for batteries, motor technology and power-management systems that may eventually appear in hybrids and electric vehicles.

Like Formula 1 and other big-budget motor sports, the solar challenge helps develop some of the vehicles that are seen in showrooms.

"It pushes the technology from the books to real life," said Spencer Quong, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It opens the industry's eyes to how to build a more efficient vehicle," he added. (ANI)

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