University of New South Wales questions participation in World Solar Challenge due to tight regulations

The »Sunswift« team of the Australian University of New South Wales (UNSW) will participate in this year’s »World Solar Challenge« (WSC) starting on October 22 with the solar car »Sunswift 7«, which was presented for the first time in June 2022. According to a UNSW-release, however, under the existing WSC regulations this will not be possible with the successor model »Sunswift 8«, the development of which has already begun. Therefore, UNSW, which has participated in the cross-Australia solar car race nine times since 1996, could possibly take part for the last time this year.
The WSC has been held 15 times so far since 1987. Sunswift 7 competes in the »cruiser« class introduced in 2013 for cars that could also be used in normal everyday traffic. But for Sunswift 8, the team wants to integrate fuel cell technology, »which would unfortunately rule them out of future World Solar Challenge races due to current regulations.« They now hope to enter into a discussion with other teams and the WSC organizers about whether the current regulations are still up to date.
The regulations also only allow the use of silicon-based solar cells, for example, while other technologies such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) are not permitted. According to the Sunswift team, the regulations »have basically been the same for the past 20 years,« but this is not correct: There have been several fundamental changes. GaAs cells, for example, were initially allowed, but as of 2011 their total area had to be smaller than that of silicon cells. Later, the technology (as well as cadmium telluride or copper indium diselenide) was excluded because of the high toxicity of the materials.

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