Midnight Sun Solar Race Team

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Midnight Sun Solar Rayce Car Team
Midnight Sun VIII, the team's 2005 car.
Established 1988
Affiliation University of Waterloo
Industry Solar Car Racing
Latest Vehicle Midnight Sun X
Website uwmidsun.com
Facebook uwmidsunFacebook
Twitter uwmidsunTwitter
Instagram uwmidsunInstagram

The Midnight Sun Solar Rayce Car Team is a Canadian solar car race team affiliated with the University of Waterloo of Waterloo, Ontario. Founded in 1988, the Midnight Sun team is a student-run organization which designs and builds a solar vehicle every two to three years to compete in two solar challenges; the World Solar Challenge, held in Australia, and the American Solar Challenge, held in the United States. The team's roster recruits from every department on campus, resulting in a diverse, innovative team and work environment.

The Midnight Sun team’s mission is to build a competitive solar car which will promote design, innovation and teamwork amongst students at the University of Waterloo. Furthermore, they aim to educate the public on sustainable technologies as well as explore the possibilities of solar energy applications for a greener tomorrow.

Background Information[edit]

One of the team's major efforts is to raise environmental awareness and generate interest in renewable energy. The team strives to events to educate the public on the environment, and takes part in local community events. Much of the funding for the solar cars come from internal and external sponsorship.

The name "Midnight Sun" comes from Midnight Sun, a natural phenomenon occurring north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle during the summer months where the sun remains visible 24 hours a day.

This phenomenon would, in theory, keep solar vehicles powered all day; making solar cars the effective and clean choice.

The team held the Guinness World Record for "Longest Journey by Solar Electric Vehicle.”The trip took place from August 7 through September 14, 2004, the car traveled a total of 15,070 km (9,360 mi) through the United States and Canada.[2] The journey started at the university's Davis Center and visited Vancouver, San Francisco, Houston, Florida, Washington DC, New York City, and Halifax before finishing at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Due to the solar car's unusual design, during the trip on two occasions locals phoned radio stations to announce that a UFO was driving on the highway.[1] The team officially broke the record on August 26 when they crossed the border from California to Arizona.[4] The previous record was held by Queen’s University with a total of 7044 km travelled during July 2000. [11]

Although the team's work on the car is not part of the school curriculum, some students can integrate class projects into the club. For example, all engineering undergraduates are required to do a senior design project; some engineers design parts for the car, submit them for marks, and then install them.[1]

The Midnight Sun X taken for a test drive in June 2011.

Model History[edit]

Midnight Sun I to Midnight Sun V[edit]

The club’s first vehicle was not a solar car, but a solar bicycle; dubbed Midnight Sun Zero which the team presented to then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The team’s first solar car, MSI was completed during 1990 and competed in the 1990 GM Sunrayce USA (now known as the American Solar Challenge) and finished 24th.

Midnight Sun II competed in Sunrayce 93, which ran from Dallas to Minneapolis and finished 33rd.

Midnight Sun III raced in Sunrayce 95 from Indianapolis to Denver and finished 20th overall.

Midnight Sun IV came 7th overall out of 36 vehicles in Sunrayce 97 and won the Award for Technical Innovation. Midnight Sun won the award because they were the first team to successfully implement sailed shaped front fairings used to catch crosswinds.

Midnight Sun V finished 10th overall in Sunrayce 1999 and was the first model to race in the 1999 World Solar Challenge, held in Australia. It came 25th overall in the World Solar Challenge and won the "Battler's Award" for "overcoming the most adversity to the finish line." The car's motor broke down with about 500 km to the finish line, but fortunately the team from MIT lent them a spare motor.

Midnight Sun VI to Midnight Sun X[edit]

Midnight Sun VI came 3rd at the American Solar Challenge and 15th in the World Solar Challenge. It was also one of the most reliable models.

Midnight Sun VII finished 3rd in the 2003 American Solar Challenge and earned the Award for Technical Innovation for the use of adaptable fairings, which enhanced sailing performance. The car later set a world record for its journey through the United States and Canada.

Midnight Sun VIII finished 5th overall in the 2005 American Solar Challenge and earned the Teamwork award.[5]

Midnight Sun IX was unveiled on August 12, 2007 and painted black and gold in honour of the school's 50th anniversary. It is the first model to feature an upright seat, allowing for better visibility and a better fit for the five-point harness.[1] It is about 1.8 m (5.9 ft) wide, 5 m (16 ft) long, and less than 1 m (3.3 ft) high—approximately the size of a Toyota Prius. It is capable of speeds up to 115 km/h from dawn until a few hours past dusk [1], and finished in 4th place overall in the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, a race in which only 15 of 25 cars made it to the final leg.[8] Midnight Sun IX placed 16th overall in the 2007 World Solar Challenge and 2nd place in the “Challenge Production Class”. [8]

Midnight Sun X is the team’s most recent car; it can reach a top speed of 130 km/hr and has a cruising speed of 80 km/hr. [9] This model has SunPower A300 solar cells installed for the car’s solar array. These cells are one of the world’s most cost-effective solar cells on the market, giving the best dollar-to-watts ratio. [10] Midnight Sun X finished 30th in the 2011 World Solar Challenge.

In February 2008, the team was featured on the Discovery Channel's Mean Green Machines.[3]

The 8th generation of their solar car, MSVIII was on display at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology located in Ottawa, and has since returned to the team's possession. The solar car placed 5th in the North American Solar Challenge in 2005. The title of top Canadian team was also given to the team for the North American Solar Challenge (NASC).[12]

The 9th generation of their solar car, Midnight Sun IX (MSIX) was on display at the second annual solar and conservation fair in Toronto. In 2007, the MSIX placed 16th in 2007 for the World Solar Challenge. The solar car placed 4th in the North American Solar Challenge in 2008. The title of top Canadian team was also given to the team for the NASC.

The current 10th generation of the car, Midnight Sun X (MSX) competed in the 2011 Veoila World Solar Challenge. It placed 30th in the competition.

Midnight Sun XI and Beyond[edit]

The newest model, Midnight Sun XI (MSXI) is currently under construction and is planning on attending the 2015 World Solar Challenge. The new car will be racing in the cruiser class. Cruiser class vehicles have 4 wheels, one passenger along with the driver, and fully functional doors.


Year Car Race title Place Award
1997 IV Sunrayce 7th Top Canadian team; Won "Award for Technical Innovation"
1999 V Sunrayce 10th
1999 V WSC 25th Finished 5th for "Cut-out Class"; Won Battler's Award for persevering when the motor failed
2001 VI ASC 3rd Top Canadian team; "Sunrayce" became "American Solar Challenge"
2001 VI WSC 15th
2003 VII ASC 3rd Top Canadian team; Technical Innovation Award
2005 VIII NASC 5th Top Canadian team; "American Solar Challenge" became "North American Solar Challenge"
2007 IX WSC 16th Finished 2nd place in "Challenge Production Class"
2008 IX NASC 4th Top Canadian team


1. ^ a b c d Coleman, Joey (2007-09-13)."Engineer, Teach Thyself". Maclean's. Retrieved 2008-07-28.

2. ^ "Longest Journey by a Solar Vehicle"". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2008-07-25.

3. ^ "UW Daily Bulletin, February 4, 2008". University of Waterloo. 2008-02-04. Retrieved 2008-07-26.

4. ^ "Solar Car Sets Record Distance, but Tragedy Mars Related Tour". U.S. Department of Energy. 2004-09-01. Retrieved 2008-07-27.

5. ^ "Midnight Sun - History". University of Waterloo. Retrieved 2008-07-27.

6. ^ "Midnight Sun - About". University of Waterloo. Retrieved 2008-07-27.

7. ^ O'Reilly, Nicole (2007-08-13). "Racing with the Sun". Waterloo Region Record. Retrieved 2008-07-27.

8. ^ "[2] Solar cars glide to finish line]". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2008-07-27.

9. ^http://www.uwmidsun.com/the-car. University of Waterloo. Retrieved 2011-11-22

10. ^http://www.en-genius.net/site/zones/greentechZONE/product_reviews/grnp_060203. EN-Genius Network. Retrieved 2011-11-22

11. ^ http://www.web.net/~sunwind/solar/solar_cars_boats.html Sunwind Solar Industries Inc. Retrieved 2011-11-23

12. ^http://www.yourottawaregion.com/news/article/1007031--car-exhibit-makes-space-for-solar-power-racer Your Ottawa Region. Retrieved 2011-11-23

External links[edit]