How to Build a Solar Car

September 29, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More

This past Saturday afternoon, after doing my dance duty at the annual “Dancing in the Street” at Grand Center, across from Powell Symphony Hall, I wandered the booths of the adjacent “Green Homes and Renewable Energy Festival” going on in Grandel Square behind the stage. There were plenty of solar panels, windmills, composters, insulation plans, PAC’s, and so forth.

Christian Solar Race CarBut what really impressed me was this oversize black surfboard-looking thing under an awning surrounded by young Christians. It was the second place winner of theĀ North American Solar Challenge 2008: The Principia Solar Car.

I regularly see Principia College students who drive down from Elsah, IL to dance with us. But it was a pleasure to converse with the young engineers, craftspeople, and even marketing students who created and support this little marvel.

Each of the little GaAs solar cells costs over $30, and the body was hand made by sudents out of graphite mesh, resin, and structural honeycomb. Even the wheels were custom made. These younguns are every bit as dedicated as I remember from my college daze. [sic]

How can I spot them as Christian? Well, Principia is explicitly “A Liberal Arts College for Christian Scientists”. They might have some odd ideas about Life, the Universe, and Everything, but Gould’s principle of Nonoverlapping Magisteria seems to allow them a solid education outside of that realm.

And How to Build a Solar Car is not their title for these galleries of building the car, but it should be.


Category: American Culture, Energy, Environment, global warming, Technology, transportation

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    By my calculations, the Principia car averaged about 40 mph. Quite impressive. They should be proud.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    This car has done 85 on speed trials. The recent race had an upper speed limit of 60 and required turn signal stems to stick out from the sides of the otherwise streamlined car.

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