The civil engineering students Dianni Tarsetti and Daniel Jerez of the Universidad Técnica Federico Santamaría (UTFSM) covered the over 130 kilometers that separate the capital Santiago from the port of Valparaíso aboard a solar tricycle. Their objective? The youths wanted to provide an initial measurement of the solar radiation on the route to contribute information to the Solar Route, the first competition in the region for solar powered vehicles.
Over 160 teams have already expressed their interest in participating in the race, which is aimed at promoting the use of this type of vehicle and renewable energy in the country. The idea is to do something similar to the Green Global Challenge, a competition that is held in Australia and where the competitors cover over 3,000 kilometers using only clean energy.
However, the race conditions will be adapted to the Latin American reality and will include a qualifying stage that will be held in northern Chile, ideal for the use of solar energy.
The maximum cost of the models that want to participate cannot be more than US$ 7,000 and they will have a maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour. Due to this limitation, the racers are expected to take around six hours to complete the route, as Tarcetti and Jerez already did aboard their tricycle when they inaugurated the route.
Three years of hard work were needed for the mission to be successful, during which time – with support from their university – they created a model that uses a 27 kg solar panel and 72 silicone cells that can be connected to a central computer that has the capacity to measure the amount of solar radiation they are receiving in real time, in addition to controlling the amount of energy used by the batteries and mixing it with what is generated by mechanical movement.
The occasion was also used to sign the “Agreement for the promotion of Solar Energy,” an initiative that reflects the public and private sectors’ commitment to use this inexhaustible source of energy.