The Philippine Solar Car Challenge Society (PSCCS) and De La Salle University-Manila (DLSU) are gearing up to compete in the 2011 World Solar Challenge by unveiling a scale model of Sikat II, the third-generation solar car that's proudly Filipino-made.
Sikat II is a product of the faculty and students of DLSU and is based on what they have learned from making and running the Philippines' entry in the 2007 World Solar Challenge and from the 2010 local roadshow vehicle.
Sikat II will driven by a single rear wheel and steered by two front wheels, a setup similar to the one used in the Sinag car.
"This was adopted as a safety precaution," said assistant project head Jack Catalan, a professor of Electronics and Communications Engineering at DLSU. "With the previous setup, if the front wheel suffered a blowout, the driver could easily lose control of the car since the steering and power delivery is done through the front wheel. With our new setup, the driver could still control the car even if it suffers a blowout."
Catalan added that the group focused on Sikat II's aerodynamic design and weight. Sikat II is 20-kilogram lighter than Sikat and 110-kilogram lighter than Sinag. With its weight and a two-kilowatt motor, Sikat II can reach a top speed of 110kph faster than its predecessors.
Sikat II's drag coefficient of 0.01 Cd is attributed to the shape of the cockpit cover at the rear of the vehicle, which acts as an aerofoil that allows the car to cut cleanly through the air.
According to third year Mechanical Engineering student Danver Panganiban, one of the students working on the fabrication and mechanical systems of Sikat II, the car is approximately 25 percent complete.
"We'll be working on Sikat II even during the summer break so that we can have it up and running, and ready for testing by June. We have to ship Sikat II off to Australia for the World Solar Challenge by August so we're working really hard to meet our deadlines," Panganiban said.
Harvesting the solar energy to power Sikat II's electric motor are photovoltaic cells that are made by Laguna-based Sunpower Philippines. With the power collected by the solar cells combined with the power stored in Sikat II's batteries, the car can run up to a distance of 800 kilometers at 85kph for nine hours under optimal conditions. On battery power alone, Sikat can cover a distance of 255 kilometers also at 85kph.
"More than a source of pride to the country, Sikat II marks another landmark achievement in harnessing alternative energy sources. The journey of Sikat II is set to start a spark that will create new awareness about the unlimited potential of solar power and the potential of our dedicated and talented young pioneers," the PSCCS said in its statement.
Sinag, the first Philippine solar car, had a remarkable debut performance by finishing in 12th place in a field of 40 participants in the 2007 World Solar Challenge. In 2010, Sikat embarked on a nationwide road tour to spread awareness on the use of solar energy and to promote PSCCS and DLSU's efforts for the 2011 race.
The 2011 World Solar Challenge is a 3,000-kilometer race from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia, which will be held from October 16 to 23.