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Leading global distributor joins UJ energy movement

Leading global distributor joins UJ energy movement

Jun 11, 2014

RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), the world’s leading high service distributor of electronics and maintenance products , recently announced that they would be supporting the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Energy Movement.

Their Platinum sponsorship in the Premier category amounts to R1 million’s worth of products. UJ’s Energy Movement efforts aim to develop a solar vehicle that will participate in the 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge. The challenge takes place between 27 September and the 4 October 2014, attracting teams from across the globe to participate in an epic solar vehicle race. The purpose of the race is effectively for R&D purposes within the alternative energy space.

Solar powered vehicles are rising dramatically in popularity and teams from universities and educational institutions around the world will partake in the 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge. “It’s the first time RS Components will participate in an event of this huge nature in South Africa,” says Brian Andrew, GM of RS Components South Africa. “We could not have chosen a better project to invest in, as research and development in the alternative energy space is very important for our environment and especially for a country like South Africa where electricity supply is a challenge and fuel is very expensive.”

The race lasts for eight days starting in Pretoria and continues through Kroonstad, Bloemfontein, Colesberg, Graaffreinet, Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Swellendam and ends in Cape Town.

“The route is about 2000km long, translating to roughly 250km per day. Since this is a distance race instead of a speed race, teams will have the option to expand their daily distance by driving loops varying from 58km up to 132km. Loops can be driven more than once, which would give competitors the ability to travel as far as they can on a single day” commented Warren Hurter, UJ Solar Team project Manager.

Winners will be determined by different criteria for the entire duration of the race such as technological and engineering expertise, average time and distance, average energy consumption, and the cars’ average battery usage.

Solar powered cars are usually designed with distinctive shapes because the designer’s objectives are to minimise drag and car weight and maximise the exposure to sunlight. In most cases, the cars’ solar panels generate about as much power as a domestic hairdryer, but advanced aerodynamics and lightweight materials can propel them past 100km/h.

The solar panel on a solar powered car contains hundreds of photovoltaic cells, converting sunlight into electricity. Unlike objects that also use solar energy, solar cars can use different solar cell technologies that often involve monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon and gallium arsenide.

The way solar cars gather and store power is a big issue. The solar arrays need to be enough to power the car, and a large battery pack is needed for the running of the car.

A battery pack with enough storage to power the car from sunset to sunrise would make a solar car far too heavy, so the vehicle must be in the sun at nearly all times to be effective.

The information engineers have already gathered from building solar powered cars, has guided their work in other areas. All previous technologies used in previous solar car challenges, have made great contributions to the development of the new electric vehicles and hybrids on the road today.

Unlike regular cars, solar energy powered cars are able to utilise their full power at any speed. They are quiet, require very low maintenance and produce no harmful emissions.

“As an environmentally responsible and innovative electronics company providing the industry with various electronic components, we are excited to see what the future will bring in regards to solar powered vehicles.” says Brian Andrew, GM of RS Components South Africa.

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