first_imgThe winning car in the South African SolarChallenge, put together by a team fromTokai University, Japan, heading towardsthe Hex River mountains outside CapeTown.(Image: Zellous Racing) Each car in the race was sandwichedbetween two support cars to protect thesmall and fragile vehicles from other roadusers.(Image: Shane Barrett) The race covered 4 175km of tough SouthAfrican territory.(Image: South African Solar Challenge)Jennifer SternOn Tuesday 7 October a fleet of odd-looking vehicles rolled into Pretoria after an epic two-week, 4 175km round-trip across South Africa’s heartland and back along its coastline. This was the end of the inaugural South African Solar Challenge, the longest and toughest solar-powered race in the world, and the first sanctioned by the Federation International de l’Automobile (International Automobile Federation, or FIA).Setting off from Pretoria in Gauteng province on 28 September, the race covered the 530km to Kimberley in the Northern Cape by that evening. The next day they headed to Beaufort West, and the next to the coastal city of Cape Town, where the cars were on display in Canal Walk shopping centre on 1 October.The route back to Pretoria took the long way, east along South Africa’s coastline via Plettenberg Bay, East London, Port Shepstone, Durban and Ermelo.The South African Solar Challenge is similar to those run in the US and Australia for years, but with the distinction that it is sanctioned by FIA, the body that administers all motor sport including Formula 1 racing.The Australian and US races predate FIA’s interest in alternative-fuel racing, so they have their systems well established. Because the South African Solar Challenge is a brand new event, FIA was on board from the beginning. It’s probably only a matter of time until the other big solar races fall into line with FIA requirements, or the association alters its requirements to accommodate the established races.Energy efficiencyWhile the race is probably the most exciting, and certainly the most visually interesting, part of the event, it is in fact a small aspect of it. What it’s really all about is designing and building the cars. These are not production vehicles – every one is designed and built by the team that races it, and most teams are attached to universities or alternative energy technology companies.Efficiency is more important than speed, as solar cars are effectively electric cars, constrained by battery technology. Batteries have 50 times less energy density than petrol.  A litre of petrol weighs a bit less than a kilogram, and that will take the average car about 10km. One kilogram of fully charged battery, however, will take a car of about the same weight no more than a couple of hundred metres. In order to race an electric car 4 000km, you need to regularly recharge the batteries, hence the solar panels. So the race is not judged on speed, but on distance covered.Each car is accompanied by a trailer and, if they run out of power, they can opt to get back on the trailer and get credit for the mileage they’ve done, or they can stop and wait for the batteries to recharge.The more experienced drivers plan their energy consumption in such a way that they never run out of power, by driving slower, planning their stops and understanding the energy losses in the total system. If the weather is particularly bad or the road conditions unsafe, the organisers can call for all vehicles to be trailered.All the vehicles, regardless of class, have to have effective brakes and regulation lights. But they aren’t actually roadworthy, so each car is sandwiched between two escort cars to protect them from careless fellow road users, and protect other road users from them.In a previous solar race elsewhere, one of the cars had brake failure, but – fortunately – only crumpled its nose against its escort vehicle. What would be more disastrous is for an 18-wheeler to drive over one. They’re hard to see – being close to the ground, streamlined and almost invisible as the top surface is covered in dark, reflective solar panels. The top of some cars wouldn’t even reach the wheel nuts of a big truck.Challenge, Adventure and TechnologyThe race has three categories: Challenge, Adventure and the rather anomalous but exciting Technology Class, or Green Fleet. This last is open to either production vehicles using alternative fuels, or one-off designs. But the first South African Solar Challenge had only one entry in this class – a hybrid motorcycle from Malaysia.Winstone Jordaan, the event organiser, said that he hoped that in the next event, scheduled for 2010, commercial vehicle manufacturers would use the race to showcase their alternative-fuel models. By then there should be many more alternatively powered cars on the road, so this class could become seriously competitive.The Challenge Class is the most demanding, as the cars need to be a bit more “normal”. They must have a sit-up seat, not a reclining one, and generally be something that most people could actually imagine driving. Of the two leading vehicles in the race, that belonging to Team Sunna and designed, built and driven by Divwatt was the only one to qualify for this class.The Japanese entry, designed by engineering students from Tokai University, is by far the fastest and most efficient car in the fleet. Competing in the Adventure Class, it was the overall winner and an inspiration to the other competitors.At 11 years old the vehicle is a solar-race veteran, and the Japanese team exude an air of professionalism that shows they have been doing this for some time. While most of the other drivers are students, alternative technology buffs or engineers, the Japanese team has a string of five professional race drivers – all capable of doing repairs on the vehicle – as well as a small battalion of engineers.The spirit of the raceWhile it is an actual race, the spirit of the event is not particularly competitive. There were only six teams and, by the time they had reached Cape Town, only two cars had managed to run under their own steam – or sunshine. Most were plagued by technical or logistical problems.The two Indian teams were struggling to get their cars through customs into the country in time. In the spirit of the event they were hoping to drive a leg or two, even if they had no chance of winning. Two of the three South African teams had technical problems they were hoping to sort out so that they could, at least, do some of the race.Hermann Oelsner, the owner of Silver Fox, relates how Georg Brasseur, the FIA technical representative, stayed up until early in the morning trying to help him sort out his technical hitch after his car blew up its controller at the start. A few sparks, a fizz and then a sinking feeling as, after an exhausting resuscitation attempt, the phrase dreaded by every car owner was said: “We need this one small part …” This particular part had to come from Germany.It hadn’t arrived by Wednesday 1 October and Oelsner decided to take his car back home to Darling, where he runs South Africa’s first privately owned wind farm, which supplies electricity to the City of Cape Town. Even though the vehicle had done no actual mileage, he said, he had learned a lot on the race and will come fully prepared in 2010 – probably with a huge box of spare parts in the support vehicle.Being the first time the event was run, all involved have used it as a learning experience – the organisers and the competitors.“It’s a huge learning curve,” Jordaan said. “We’ve had no sponsorship so we haven’t managed to do much in the way of publicity or marketing, but we’re hoping to rectify that in 2010.”The organisers had hoped for more international competitors, he said, but the top teams stayed away because there was little in the way of exposure or kudos. They’d had a few nibbles but, Jordaan thinks, perhaps the course put them off.Tough goingIt’s not only the longest solar-powered race in the world, it’s the toughest. It’s mostly downhill from Pretoria to Cape Town, but the Hex River Mountains outside Cape Town pose a challenging barrier, with some nasty climbs. Getting out of Cape Town via the coast means negotiating Sir Lowry’s Pass and Houwhoek Pass, both high, steep and twisted.There are a few bumps and grinds further along the coast, such as the notorious Kei Cuttings in the Eastern Cape.  And it’s all uphill from the coast back up to Gauteng.  So not having much to gain and everything to lose if the terrain proved too taxing, the really competitive teams stayed home.The event was held as a stage race, with all the teams leaving together and spending each night in the same place. The organisers therefore had to make a call to put the vehicles on the trailers if it looked like they were not going to make the daily target.Ideally the teams should have all set off and kept going, spending the night wherever they ended up at sunset. But the logistics of this were too complicated with the resources the inaugural race had at hand.An advantage of this was that all the cars were in one place, so locals could come and have a good look. There was a surprisingly good turnout at Canal Walk in Cape Town, with fascinated onlookers asking the team members all kinds of questions – a good advertisement for alternative energy.Once the race is more established, and there are more resources, it will be run as a straightforward race, with each team heading off on their own with the leaders quite possibly finishing days ahead of their competitors.By the afternoon of Friday 4 October the race was almost in East London, a coastal city in the Eastern Cape. With glorious sunshine to push them on, the Japanese team were ahead of the organisers, who were flirting with speed limits to catch up to them.“Oh well,” Jordaan said, “it won’t be a total disaster if they get there before me, but it would be a bit embarrassing.”It was later discovered that the Japanese team followed some incorrect road signs and went via Grahamstown instead of Port Alfred. This was a far more complex climb, with worse road conditions, but they completed it like champions.Sunday 5 October saw the shortest stage – 128km from Port Shepstone to the Gateway shopping mall north of Durban. Not a single sunbeam broke through the clouds and there was heavy rain for most of the distance, but the Tokai University team drove the whole way on battery power, averaging a speed of about 45km an hour – much less than they can do with sunshine. It was good to have one car, at least, drive up to Gateway and through the parking lot with its trailer following empty.The Indians got their vehicles through customs on Sunday and, after a long night of scrutiny, the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology car was passed for racing. The other Indian team Delhi College of Engineering was held back because the wiring was a not up to standard, and might pose a danger in the case of an accident.So on Monday four cars headed off towards Ermelo and then, on Tuesday 7 October, continued to Pretoria. That was where the Japanese car – to nobody’s surprise – passed the finish line first and, more importantly, registered by far the longest mileage.Related articlesSappi and Volvo greening SA Electrifying SA’s motor industry A power plant in your home Wind power on SA’s national grid Motorwind-powered energy Rallying around cleaner energy Useful linksSouth African Solar Challenge Federation International de l’Automobile American Solar Challenge World Solar Challenge Divwatt Iritron The Innovation Hublast_img read more

first_imgPune: Hundreds of activists, intellectuals, leaders of left parties and common citizens came together in Pune on Wednesday to condemn the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead outside her Bengaluru home on Tuesday night.Carrying handmade posters bearing the legend ‘I am Gauri Lankesh’, the demonstrators gathered near S.P. College on Tilak Road. They blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for fostering a climate of “cultural terrorism”.The protesters also included activists from the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) founded by the late Narendra Dabholkar.During the two-hour protest, members of socialist parties and left-leaning outfits like Lokayat and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) accused the Modi government of deliberately stifling dissent and failing to prosecute agents of intolerance.“The BJP has come to power with the objective of subverting the Indian Constitution … anybody seen opposing the RSS thought and ideology is promptly hounded,” said eminent writer-editor and septuagenarian activist Vidya Bal, remarking that under the present government, women in the country were not safe, and women journalists even less so.Lankesh’s killing is not the murder of an individual, but a violent attack on democracy, said Sambhaji Brigade leader Santosh Shinde.The protesters said the murder echoed the killings of Dr. Dabholkar, veteran Communist leader Govind Pansare and scholar M.M. Kalburgi.“Radical right-wing elements and Hindutva fundamentalists are able to unleash a reign of terror under the Modi government,” alleged CPI (M) leader Ajit Abhyankar. He also accused the BJP government of deliberately dragging their feet in the investigations into the Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi murders.last_img read more

first_imgPagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Security was tight at the arena as a SWAT team stood guard outside.“We’ve already undertaken a lot of preparation, and with the way the world looks today this type of incident (Monday’s attack) is the kind of thing we have to prepare for. So it has been part of our planning all along,” Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said.United manager Jose Mourinho said Tuesday he and his players were finding it hard not to think about the attack, which targeted fans leaving a pop concert by the American singer Ariana Grande and left 59 people injured.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ For Mark, a 19-year-old Manchester fan living in Stockholm, this was no ordinary match. “It was very special because of the events that happened in Manchester and now they qualify for Champions League,” he said. Vijay Patel, a 29-year-old Manchester fan from the UK, said the team came out even stronger in the aftermath of the attack. “It should motivate them… they’re not just winning for the team they’re winning for the city,” he said. Team supporters were celebrating hours earlier at a fan zone in Stockholm’s leafy Kungstradgarden park where they played football and took photos.ADVERTISEMENT Heat’s Big 3 era ends as deal struck for Bosh to go—report ‘Coming Home For Christmas’ is the holiday movie you’ve been waiting for, here’s why More than 5,000 measles deaths in DR Congo this year — WHO LATEST STORIES South Korea to suspend 25% of coal plants to fight pollution SEA Games: PH beats Indonesia, enters gold medal round in polo Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students PLAY LIST 01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes LOOK: Vhong Navarro’s romantic posts spark speculations he’s marrying longtime GF Shaun Payne, a 29-year-old United supporter, said Monday’s attack undoubtedly scarred the team, but he was optimistic that they would win.“They have nothing to lose tonight. They’ll go for it,” he told AFP.“It’ll provide extra motivation to represent the city and to hopefully bring the trophy back with us,” he says. Tight securityRob Coppen, a 28-year-old Ajax fan from Amsterdam donning the team’s kit, said the terror attack took the joy out of the final. “(The attack) has taken the spark off the game. It’s been a while since Ajax has been in a Euro final so it’s a pity.“But what can you do? Nobody asked for this, neither Manchester nor Ajax,” he said. Amy Edwards, a Manchester fan, was worried about safety at the final, but said she refused to let fear control her life. “I’m worried a little bit in case something happens tonight, but I guess it’s always a risk you take anyway and go to high profile games,” she said.“But you can’t stay inside,” she added. “Obviously the events in Manchester has put a dampener on everything but hopefully we can win and bring the trophy back tonight.” Manchester’s Wayne Rooney holds the trophy after winning 2-0 during the soccer Europa League final between Ajax Amsterdam and Manchester United at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)A crowd of Manchester United fans were cheering outside a Stockholm stadium on Wednesday as their team won the Europa League, a relief for the supporters after the Manchester terror attack 48 hours earlier.“It’s fantastic to see them winning. We were always confident that we would win,” said George Malloy, a 69-year-old from Dublin. ADVERTISEMENT View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Cayetano dares Lacson, Drilon to take lie-detector test: Wala akong kinita sa SEA Games “I think it will be a good lift for the people of Manchester,” he added. Manchester fans were screaming and whistling in joy, while their Ajax counterparts were biting their nails as the English club won 2-0. FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingOutside the entrance of the modernly decorated Friends Arena in the Stockholm suburb of Solna, fans were upbeat and cheerful under sunny summer skies, but nervous about both the outcome of the match and security issues.Ahead of Wednesday’s match, players held a minute’s silence in honour of the victims of Monday’s suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena which left 22 people dead. Lakers win 9th straight, hold off Pelicanslast_img read more