Since 1988, the University of Waterloo’s Midnight Sun Solar Race Car Team has been participating in the movement for renewable energy by designing and making solar-powered vehicles every two to three years.
They began by building solar-powered bicycles and slowly evolved to building solar-powered cars as their skill and access to more advanced technology grew.
Now, after nearly three decades of innovation, the Midnight Sun Solar Race Car Team is on its way to making their twelfth solar-powered car: The Midnight Sun XII.
The name “Midnight Sun” comes from a natural phenomenon that occurs north of the Arctic Circle during the summer, when the sun is visible 24/7.
What Is the Midnight Sun XII?
The Midnight Sun XII (MSXII) is a consumer-focused, modern car that runs on the power of the sun. It is the team’s twelfth solar car and second cruiser style vehicle.
It was inspired by sports coupe cars and is only able to occupy two people. This is the second car that will have four wheels (the first being the MSXI), as all the others have had three.
This change from three wheels to four is crucial to making the car look more modern and overall plausible.
When we think of solar-powered cars, we think of sci-fi movies and of a future that is not yet within our grasp, but thanks to the subtle look the newest generation has, we can easily picture something similar parked in our garage.
This idea that, because they are so close to being a reality, we have to start thinking of buying solar cars for ourselves also helps spread the MSXII team’s message: the potential renewable energy can have for a more sustainable, healthy tomorrow.
The solar cells will be located on the hood and roof of the car with the black panels really working well with the elegant, sharp design of the car and tying together the whole “car of the future” look.
How Does It Work?
The MSXII is completely powered by the sun using solar cells.
Solar cells, or photovoltaic cells, convert the energy of the sun into electricity. Each cell can transfer 3.5 watts of electricity and the MXII needs 326 in order to run.
The electricity converted by the solar cells on the MXII will then be conducted through a 16 kWh li-ion battery.
The Midnight Sun Solar Race Car team is made up of over eighty people from different faculties of the University of Waterloo.
The team is divided by three sub-teams: business, electrical, and mechanical.
The business group is in charge of the teams’ public and industrial relations, organizing their finances, overseeing the Kickstarter campaign, and handling logistics.
The electrical group is responsible for designing, manufacturing, and testing the electrical components of the car and making sure it works with the car’s solar cells.
The mechanical group is in charge of the brakes, aerodynamics, steering, and balance.
When Will the MSXII Be Released?
The team has been developing the MSXII since 2016 and are scheduled to host an unveiling event in June 2018.
Those who pledge $250 Canadian dollars or more will be able to drive the Midnight Sun XII itself, granted they have a valid driver’s license and are able to attend the event.
What Happens After It Has Been Made?
If you can’t attend the unveiling but still wish to see the car in action, the MSXII will represent the University of Waterloo and Canada and compete against other solar cars on two occasions: The World Solar Challenge in Australia and the American Solar Challenge in the United States.
The World Solar Challenge, held every two years, is an event that takes place on October 8th to the 15th.
Contenders have to start in Darwin and travel as far as they can until 5pm every day. The finish line is located in Adelaide.
The fastest solar car to travel the whole 3,000km wins. The MSXII will be competing in the cruiser division.
The Midnight Sun Solar Race Team has won the World Solar Challenge in 25th, 15th, and 16th place in 1999, 2001, and 2007 respectively.
The American Solar Challenge is a biannual event that tests the endurance of solar cars from all over North America by racing over a thousand miles of open road.
The event starts on July 14th and ends on the 22nd. The starting line is set in Omaha, Nebraska, and the finish line in Bend, Oregon.
The Midnight Sun Team has competed in the American Solar Challenge coming in 3rd twice in a row in 2001 and 2003.
Both these events are non-profit organizations which aim to bring more awareness and a deeper understanding of solar technology, engineering, math, and science while setting a stage where college students can flex their intellectual muscles and bring forth a sunnier future through innovation.
Are you tempted to drive the Midnight Sun XII Solar Car?