MIT Solar Car Team Blog

Check us out in the Google Science Fair Video

The Google Science Fair is an annual online science competition sponsored by Google, Lego, Virgin Galactic, National Geographic and Scientific America. The competition is open to 13-18 year old students around the world who hypothesis, perform experiments and present their results. As engineers and scientists who do this regularly, the MIT solar car team was more than happy to help encourage and inspire students to explore STEM through the creation of this promotional video.

Chassis

Due to WSC regulations, our new car must have 4 wheels and additional head space. These new design challenges were meet and optimized by Andrew Liotta our lead engineer who designed the chassis. Dillon McConnon, our system lead made sure the chassis integrated well with the other subsystems such as the aero shell and electrical boxes.

isometric view

solidworks rendering of the chassis design

With the design complete and tolerances adjusted, we have now begun the building process. Using 4130 steel tubes, cut and coped to fit at the correct angles the chassis is welded together. This is a challenging and precise endeavor as it is important to have a minimal gap between adjoining rods in order to make a strong weld.

setting up to weld

Priya (left) and Kathleen (right) set up the steel tube in preparation for welding

Once set up (with jigs to hold things in place) the tubes are welded together. In fabrication of the chassis, the preparation takes longer than the actual welding time. Below is a time lapse of one evening’s effort of welding done by Thomas Villalon.

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our newest silver sponsors

sunpower logo
SunPower Corporation designs and manufactures high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, roof tiles and solar panels based on a silicon all-back-contact solar cell invented at Stanford University. Sunpower has graciously agreed to sponsor by donating of a package of the Maxeon Gen II  solar cells and interconnects. These monocrystalline silicon solar cells are approximately 22% efficient and with Sunpwower’s all back contact and patented tin plated copper interconnect tabs we will be able to create custom modules for our solar array.

new solar cells what the front of a bare solar cell looks like interconnects
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hexcel logo

Hexcel is a materials company incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, that manufactures composite materials and structural parts. Hexcel has provided us sheets of Nomex honeycomb which we plan to use in both the top and bottom portions of the aerodynamic shell of our four wheeled vehicle sandwhiched between layers of carbon fiber.
nomex honeycomb


With these in-kind donations, both Sunpower and Hexcel will be considered silver level supporters of the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team and as such their logos will appear on the solar car, support vehicles, team apparel and website. Thank you!

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The Solar Car will be out and about in the Boston area this spring!

Keep an eye out for the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team in the next few months!

We’ll be at several events, including:

MIT xFair, February 2nd

Check out their website here: http://xfair.mit.edu/

Wellesley STEM Expo, March 28th

See here for more information: https://www.wellesleyeducationfoundation.org/events/science-technology-expo

WellesleyExpo

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Check us out in the MIT Alumni Association’s Slice of MIT blog!

http://slice.mit.edu/2014/09/03/valkyrie/

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Activities Midway

We brought Valkyrie to the MIT Activities Midway, the primary recruiting and publicity event for clubs at MIT. We had many interested freshmen sign up and are looking forward to having new members!

There will be more introductory meetings and publicity events in the upcoming weeks. If you get a chance, stop by our open house event at the Edgerton Center this Saturday at 3pm.

American Solar Challenge Blues

On Friday night, July 11th, the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team drove down to Austin, TX, to begin the scrutineering process for the up-and-coming American Solar Challenge. After passing all of the scrutineering events, we proceeded to compete in the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP), the track race that is the final qualifier for the American Solar Challenge. On the last day of FSGP, our car ran into difficulty and we unfortunately were not able to qualify for the American Solar Challenge.

We also would like to sincerely thank all of our sponsors for their continued support and mentorship. Without them, none of what we do would be possible.

With this race now behind us the team looks eagerly forward to FSGP 2015 – to improve upon the designs of this car and the cars that the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team has built before. We are also switching from the canonical 3-wheeled solar car design to a 4-wheeled design, which will bring challenges and opportunities for our design team.

Post written by Dillon McConnon

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Solar Car Track Testing

On Tuesday, April 22nd, MIT’s Solar Electric Vehicle Team trooped over to Seekonk Speedway, MA to do track testing. It was a lot of fun, and the weather was nice.

The day started at 5 AM, as we had to make some last minute fixes on the car—namely, installing seatbelts and such. Then, we drove over to the track. The parking lot was huge! The track was a 1/3 mile banked oval and very smooth. We brought snacks.

Track testing was very informative. We found a lot of bugs in the car, which we are working to mend currently. Wish us luck!

Post written by Priya Kikani.

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MIT Energy Conference

The day started very early with the team gathering at 5am to drive our solar car, Valkyrie, from the Edgerton shop to the MIT energy conference held at Westin Copley Place in Boston. The three car caravan included a lead car, a truck pulling a trailer and a chase car. Valkyrie was carefully unloaded from the trailer and brought up via elevator into the display area.
After catching up on missed sleep some team members returned to the conference around 11am to talk to the conference attendees as they broke for lunch. Later in the afternoon more team members joined for the evening expo. Various energy companies representatives, executives, scientists and the general public wandered around the various booths set up. The team shared our experience building Valkyrie so far and our plans for the American Solar Challenge. People were excited about what we are doing and expressed support and encouragement. The team got to meet some very interested company representatives and even the founders of some energy start ups!
The conference ended at 8pm and Valkyrie was loaded back into the trailer and taken across the Charles river back to MIT where the work continues.

Post written by Michelle Chao.

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No More Breaks

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year’s! Our team was able to relax for a bit after finishing the composite layup. After 2 trips to Maine, 60 hours of work, and $55,000, Valkyrie‘s body has been completed! One of our members, Chris Pentacoff, compiled a cool timelapse video of the process. Check it out below!

Now that the team has taken a much-needed break, the next few months until the race are gonna get hectic. We plan to attend the MIT Energy Conference in late February with an almost-completed solar car. This means a completed solar array, mechanical system, and battery pack all integrated with the composite body. Not to mention that we’re looking for a new truck and trailer. Whew. Let’s hope this month is a good one.

Time to ASC: 195 days

Post written by Julia Hsu.

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