MANILA, Philippines -- SINAG, the Philippines’ first fully functional solar car, has reached the halfway point of the 3,000-kilometer stretch of the World Solar Challenge being held in central Australia.
After breaching the 2,000-kilometer distance from Darwin to Cadney Homestead on Thursday, SINAG jumped to 11th place but continued to maintain the lead in the Challenge Class of the race, consisting of about 40 participants, according to a press statement from the SINAG team.
The World Solar Challenge is a solar powered-car race over 3,021 kilometers through central Australia from Darwin to Adelaide.
A solar car is an electric vehicle powered by solar energy obtained from solar panels on the surface of the car. Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert the sun’s energy directly into electrical energy.
The race, which started on Oct. 21, has attracted teams from around the world, most of which are fielded by governments or corporations keen to promote the development of alternative energy technology, and universities to develop their students’ engineering and technological skills.
Teachers, students built it
The SINAG solar car was designed and built by a group of faculty members and students from the mechanical engineering and the electronics and communications engineering departments of De La Salle University, with support from Ford Phil., Motolite, Philippine Airlines, San Miguel Corp, Shell, SunPower, U-Freight and Ventus.
According to SINAG’s technical team, the solar car has been performing better than expected since the start of the race.
SINAG was easily able to surpass the 1,000-kilometer mark without needing to rely on auxiliary power, an option which, although allowed by contest rules, would result in a reduction of the team’s overall score, the team said.
Though it encountered a minor problem with the brake system which caused the car’s tires to wear out faster, Team SINAG has experienced no major technical difficulties and has more than made up for lost time, the statement said.
“We are making good time so we can make it to Adelaide by Saturday or early Sunday morning,” said lead driver Eric Tan.
“We just need to reach the next designated control stops before the deadline in order for us to be able to continue to race. Missing two control stops will disqualify us,” said Tan.
Last two stops
On Friday, SINAG will make its way to the last two control centers in Glen Dambo and Port Augusta, before the finish of the race in Adelaide.
The La Salle students have been feeling triumphant after the solar car they built has been performing better than the other entrants.
“Whether or not we finish this race, we feel we’ve already accomplished our goal of building a working solar car and letting people at home know that solar power is a viable and reliable source of energy,” said Robert Obiles, the student team leader.
“Plus, this has been one great big adventure,” he said.