The students of Illinois State’s Team Mercury have built a brand new solar-powered vehicle in hopes of running the American Solar Challenge (ASC), a 1,650-mile race that will make a pit stop in Normal this July.
More than 30 Illinois State students from across campus and majors have been working to build the new vehicle, Mercury IV, which will go to the qualifying three-day race in Monticello, N.Y., in early July. If the team qualifies at the race, known as the “Formula Sun Grand Prix,” then the Mercury IV will compete in the 1,650-mile ASC, which stretches from Rochester, N.Y., to St. Paul, Minn., from July 14 to 21. This year, the race will include an overnight or “stage” stop in Normal from July 18 to 19. For the schedule of stops, go to http://americansolarchallenge.org/category/events/asc2012-events/.
The Solar Car Challenge is a national effort that attracts universities across the United States and Canada. This is the fifth year for Team Mercury to race a solar vehicle. Last year, the team placed second at the Formula Sun Grand Prix. Four students have been chosen to drive the vehicle this year, with a back-up team of seven students to act as crew.
One of the drivers, team COO and Illinois State junior Cameron Knight, said the vehicle represents more than a chance to develop his engineering skills. “This project is looking toward the future,” he said, “and we have to look toward the next generation with green and sustainable alternatives.”
Illinois State’s Jim Dunham, an advisor for Team Mercury, calls the project a chance for students to get real-world experience. “The work we do here transcends the classroom and gives students a hands-on approach to not only building a car, but problem solving, crisis management and teamwork,” he said.
The Mercury IV:
Weight: 600 lbs. with driver
Motor: Rear-powered by an industrial motor putting out 1.2Kw (11Hp).
Speed: Top speed of 75 mph, but can comfortably cruise at 45 mph
Body: Comprised of a steel tube frame, covered in an aerodynamically designed carbon fiber shell
Cost: The cost of the vehicle is around $45,000, including materials donated by companies all over the country.
For additional information, go to http://www.solarcar.ilstu.edu/ .