What’s left to do after a record-setting journey crossing Canada’s infamous ice road in a solar car? Turn around and break your own record with a return trip, of course.
The appropriately-named Marcelo da Luz was behind the wheel of the Power of One (X of 1) solar car when it rolled into Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. The vehicle had sustained the ice road speed limit of 43 mph throughout the 116 mile journey from Inuvik, but it also had been damaged after hitting a crack in the ice. The rims were bent and there was a small crack in the housing of the nine horsepower brushless DC electric motor, but da Luz decided to press on.
“The solar car was still drivable. Except bent rims, most of the damage was cosmetic,” he said. “X of 1 set a new world record with every turn of its wheels, [so] the plan [was] to continue the drive further.”
Da Luz had already conquered sandstorms and the Arctic Circle, so another few hours in a 13-foot car festooned with a 900 watt solar array didn’t seem like that much of a deal. After all, according to da Luz, when he was driving the ice road he felt “on top of the world, and literally, I was.”
“I want to promote the use of clean and sustainable technology as much as possible,” da Luz said. “A return trip on the longest continuous ice road in the world was a personal challenge for the X of 1 team and the car, and it sends a powerful message.”
After giving the X of 1’s 3.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion polymer battery pack an 85 percent charge from the Arctic sun, da Luz headed out on a rapidly melting road. The 662-pound car made it up slippery inclines better than the support vehicle and rolled into Inuvik twelve hours and two charging stops after it departed.
If he ever returns to the ice roads, da Luz says he’ll build wider wheels that are better able to handle cracks in the ice. But for now, he’s concentrating on warmer climates.
“If we raise enough funds we’ll drive the solar car from the Arctic to Argentina and Brazil,” he said.
Photos: Marcelo da Luz. More after the jump
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