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Lighter and Sleeker for This Year’s Race

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Navitas, our ninth car. (Photograph courtesy Kevin Wang)

Purdue Solar Racing (PSR) has shown tremendous strides over our 22-year history. With a car that failed to qualify at Sunrayce as our starting point, we could only go up. PSR was founded on the principle of building and racing solar cars as well as educating the public on alternative forms of energy.  Through improvements and learning, our team eventually produced Pulsar for the 2010 Shell Eco-marathon.

Pulsar drove away with first place in the solar division, the Technical Innovation Award for patent-pending carbon fiber layup process and telemetry systems, and the Communication Award for reaching out to the community through events and teaching about solar racing as well as renewable energy.

Purdue Solar Racing’s continued growth and learning was evident with our eighth car, Celeritas. PSR focused on an Urban Concept Vehicle, a valuable and forward-thinking perspective in our current environment, winning the concept category with 2,175 miles per gallon. In 2012, PSR again won the Urban Concept Vehicle category at the Shell Eco-Marathon with an improved mpg of 2,250.

Over the years, PSR has consistently won awards for teamwork and communication, as with the Sportsmanship Award in 1999 (for helping out Ohio State with technical problems) and the ‘0-66’ Award in 2003 (for showing the most improvement during a race). PSR is entering our ninth car, Navitas, in this year’s Eco-marathon. With a sleeker design, Navitas is designed to travel more efficiently with an increased mpg and a decrease in weight, while maintaining the eligibility to be scientifically street legalized.  (See related post: “Purdue: Nearly Street Legal, Powered by Sun“)

Navitas provided us with design challenges that tested the strength of our team. Due in part to the limitation of solar cells set by Eco-marathon rules, PSR has worked hard to overcome the challenges and provide technical solutions that ensure positive power is obtained.  Navitas is expected to weigh more than 50 percent less than Celeritas, as well as using four and a half times fewer solar cells.  PSR put in the dedicated hours we are known for and look forward to completing the finishing touches before Navitas is ready for the streets and unveiling on March 22.