Panasonic Provides Solar Cell Technology for Tokai University Team World Solar Challenge Bid In Australia  – Aug 29, 2013– Sydney, Australia  (Techreleased) – Panasonic Corporation is giving its technological support to the Tokai University Solar Car Team taking part in the 2013 World Solar Challenge (WSC 2013).

Tokai University Solar Car
Tokai University Solar Car

Held in Australia, the WSC is one of the world’s biggest races for solar cars, and will take place over the course of eight days from October 6 to 13, 2013.

The WSC, which started in 1987 and became a biennial event in 1999, is a time-based competition over a distance of 3,021km from Darwin in the north down to Adelaide in the south. Teams from around the world, including universities and corporations, participate in the race in cars powered solely by sunlight.

Steve Rust, Managing Director, Panasonic Australia, said, “I’m proud Panasonic is able to support Tokai University in its WSC bid. Globally, Panasonic is focused on a range of sustainable activities – from recycling to marketing a range of energy-efficient home appliances; and is developing further technologies and services that aim to reduce household CO2 emissions such as home energy management systems.”

The Tokai University Team has an impressive track record in solar car racing. The team won the previous WSC races held in 2009 and 2011, and is now looking to make a hat trick in the WSC this year. Last year, the team also won the race in South Africa that was recognised by the Fédération Internationale de I’Automobile (FIA) as the world’s longest alternative fuel vehicle car race. Panasonic’s energy products contributed to the team’s victories at these international competitions.

Panasonic’s HIT® solar cells have a unique hybrid configuration with a crystalline silicon wafer substrate surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers. Compared to ordinary crystalline silicon solar cells, they suffer less degradation of power output at high temperatures, delivering the industry’s highest-level energy output per unit of area.2

This makes Panasonic’s HIT solar cells ideal for solar cars competing in races such as the WSC, given that the WSC regulations limit the total area of solar cells installed on the body to up to six square metres3, and that the cells will be exposed to the scorching Australian sun. The HIT® solar modules for the Tokai University team are purpose-built for the solar car race, using the same solar cells – the main component that converts the sunlight into electricity – that are mass- produced for the residential market.

The rechargeable batteries Panasonic is providing are the cylindrical 18650 type (18mm in diameter x 65mm in height) high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells which use the company’s proprietary nickel-based positive electrode. The high-capacity and lightweight battery cells store excess power generated by the HIT® solar cells so that the car is able to continue running even on overcast days.

Tokai University’s solar car with Panasonic’s HIT solar cells on top and lithium-ion battery cells inside.