This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 29, 2003

Fourteen of 22 Cars Complete the World Solar Challenge

The World Solar Challenge ended on October 28th in Australia, and 14 of the 22 cars that entered the race reached the finish line near Adelaide under their own power. For the leaders, the race was over six days earlier: the Nuon Solar Team from the Netherlands finished the course on the afternoon of October 22nd, winning the race with an average speed of about 60 miles per hour. The second-place team-from Melbourne, Australia-reached the finish line an hour and forty-three minutes behind the Dutch team. A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came in third, finishing early in the morning on October 23rd. Three other vehicles finished that day, followed by three more on the 24th, two more on the 25th, two on the 26th, and a final straggler on October 28th. The final team—the Heliodet team from Germany—has entered each of the seven World Solar Challenges, and was successful in crossing the finish line for the first time this year. The World Solar Challenge is a grueling course, stretching nearly 1,900 miles down the center of the Australian continent. See the "Latest Updates" and "Media" pages on the World Solar Challenge Web site.

The Nuon Solar Team earned its second consecutive win at the World Solar Challenge-and achieved its second consecutive world-record speed-by relying heavily on technology developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The team's vehicle, the Nuna II, used 3,000 triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar cells, which convert more than 24.5 percent of the sunlight that hits them into electricity. The craft also featured 46 lithium-ion batteries (providing five kilowatt- hours of electrical energy storage), an advanced aerodynamic shape, and a carbon-fiber body reinforced with a plastic called aramide, which is used in space suits for protection against micrometeorites. See the ESA press release.