Six years in the making

26 September 2011

(Odometer 6,150 miles)

PHILADELPHIA–When I think about the building of the pyramids or great European cathedral construction in the middle ages, I think of all the people who worked on those projects who never lived to see their completion.

That thinking is a little strange, I’ll admit. A similar feeling swept over me as I stood with Bill Etter, electrical team leader; Andrew Botelho, who’s working on sensors; Oliver Pacchiana, working on thermal aspects of the battery system; and and Michaela Flaherty, mechanical engineering, in the basement of an engineering building here and learned the background on their passion.

The Penn Electric Racing team has been working on their car for six years. That’s more time than it takes to get the average degree (even an EE degree!). It emerged, according to Etter, from a legacy at Penn of students building alternative-energy cars, most notably, the Solation, the Phaeton, the Independence and others.

Etter, giving us a history of the program, takes it from there in this first of several segments on the team and its car.

Naomi Price September 27, 2011 at 7:29 am

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Very impressive work being done by these students. I was disappointed to hear that the team moved from working on solar vehicles to electric. Solar powering a vehicle is such an appealing concept, but it never seems to get beyond the novelty stage. Am I being naive or is there no mainstream future for solar vehicles?

    Jim October 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

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    NP, Solar works best at your home like we have it so it can run your home and car. I have a 100% electric LEAF. If it was on the car it would be at the wrong angle and would be watsed if you parked for a week and it over charged.

    Also who would want all that glass on the roof of thje car. Now 1 small panels can help the starter battery and even help run 12 volt accessories on a car.

    Same for a wind generator, it’s best at a stationary place doing the most good and feeding the GRID. Then run an efficient light electric vehicle and we all win.

Brian September 27, 2011 at 8:03 am

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Naomi, I don’t think there’s a future until we improve the efficiency of solar capture. That’s going to take a while. In the 1960s, Eric Lidow, who founded International Rectifier, build a solar powered car (it looked like a model T) just to prove it could be done. Vice President Nixon rode in it. We haven’t come too much farther technologically.

However, that’s not to say the U Penns of the world, the Kevin Smith/Illuminatis of the world should keep on truckin’!!

Bill Barton October 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

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So what was the ET & MPH at the track?

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