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The Philippines is among the top carbon emitters in Southeast Asia. Engineering students created a solar-powered car to inspire others to take pollution more seriously.
“Sikat” is a racecar with a flat body, a narrow single seat, and three wheels the size of a big pizza. It is powered by solar cells.
[Byron Omboy, Engineering Faculty Member, De La Salle University]:
"The solar cells absorb the radiation from the sun, converts it to electricity, and it will be stored by a battery. The battery is lithium iron phosphate battery, and then the battery will drive the motor."
The car can run up to eight hours on a single charge. The nearly 600 battery cells in Sikat can enable it to run at night or when it rains.
The car designers needed to strike a balance between sun exposure and aero-dynamics, which the car must rely on as it has no fuel engine to boost its power. The car has a light shell in the shape of a teardrop, made of fiberglass and carbon fiber.
[Carl Mamawal, Engineering Student, De La Salle University]:
"From a regular car it's not that different. It's like an automatic vehicle, there's no clutch. You only have the gas and the brake. Driving it is quite easy.”
Sikat is not ready for mass production. It lacks the space to seat more passengers and needs to be re-designed as a more practical vehicle. Furthermore, solar energy has yet to break significantly into the mainstream Philippine market.
But Sikat has helped raised public awareness on the environment as it tours schools and malls around the country.
The team will take Sikat to Australia to race in the World Solar Challenge in 2011