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Dutch solar car team tunes up

By Louise Errington

Solar Team Twente’s Koen Sedee and his team mates have been preparing their car at Casuarina campus for the World Solar Challenge this month Solar Team Twente’s Koen Sedee and his team mates have been preparing their car at Casuarina campus for the World Solar Challenge this month

A team of 16 university students from the Netherlands has taken up residence at Casuarina campus to build a really hot car.

Solar Team Twente has prepared its $1.5 million solar-powered electric car, RED Engine, for the team’s fifth appearance at the World Solar Challenge this month.

The team members have worked for more than 55,000 hours to improve the design of this year’s vehicle, modified from their former car, 21Connect, which gained fifth place at the 2011 challenge.

Solar Team Twente team member Koen Sedee said the car was capable of speeds of up to 140 kilometres an hour, and consumed about the same amount of energy as a domestic vacuum cleaner.

“Our race strategy will be incredibly important, and the weather will be our biggest consideration,” Koen said.

“Throughout the race we will be receiving satellite communications from the Dutch Air Force so we can track weather patterns and adjust our strategy accordingly.”

Constructed from Crystalline silicon solar cells and space-grade carbon fibre, RED Engine weighs in at a mere 139 kg. The car’s aerodynamic design also will play a big role in the team’s success, despite the addition of the fourth wheel to meet new regulations for the 2013 race.

The team’s four drivers will tackle the 3000 km route, facing cabin temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius.

The biennial Bridgestone World Solar Challenge inspires young people to address the imperatives of sustainable transport, with 43 teams from 24 countries competing to win the title of the world’s most efficient electric car.

The challenge will run for a week until October 13, starting in Darwin and concluding in Adelaide.