For the first time since 2010, the University of Kentucky Solar Car Team qualified for the American Solar Challenge (ASC) — a competition to design, build and drive solar-powered cars in a cross-country event.
The 2016 ASC was an 8-day, 1,975-mile road course traveling through seven states from Brecksville, Ohio, to Hot Springs, South Dakota. Seventeen UK students competed in ASC this summer, and while motor issues eventually ended their journey early, it was an overall success for the team of talented student engineers.
"Seeing the car on the track and on the road is something that really gives all of us a lot of pride, because we get to see all of the hard work that we've put into this car in action," said Senait Nuguse, 2016-2017 team manager. "The fact that we qualified for ASC for the first time since 2010 is an accomplishment in itself, and although things didn't really go as planned, we're all really happy that we got as far as we did."
This year's car featured the team's brand new lithium-ion battery pack.
"Before we had a split battery pack that had lithium phosphate rectangular pouch cells," Nuguse said. "We encountered a few problems with this pack, as it didn't really allow adequate airflow and we would always have heat problems with the batteries."
The new pack is a singular battery pack with cylindrical lithium-ion cells, better airflow and is much lighter than the previous pack.
Watch the UK Solar Car Team's video above for highlights from the American Solar Challenge. To find out more information about the team, housed in the UK College of Engineering, visit www.engr.uky.edu/solarcar/, or follow the team on social media: @UKSolarCar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.