University of Kentucky Solar Car Team
|Base||University of Kentucky|
The University of Kentucky Solar Car Team is an independent, student-led project that operates as part of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering. The team's primary goal is to compete in the American Solar Challenge (held every two years) and the Formula Sun Grand Prix (held every year) over the summer, but they also perform outreach events in which they display and discuss their car with nonmembers.
The team's mission is to design, build, and race solar-powered cars while developing team members through practical experience with much-needed hands-on experience outside their demanding course load, all while contributing to STEM outreach in the Bluegrass region. Over the past 20 years, there have been 6 solar cars built, each following naming convention of Gato del Sol followed by a Roman Numeral. Gato del Sol VI is the current solar car in use, first formed in 2017.
Membership is open to all University of Kentucky students (Undergraduate and Graduate), professors, and members of the community.
The Solar Car Team strives to:
- Continuously improve the safety, reliability, efficiency, and practicality of its vehicle.
- Develop the skills of teamwork, innovation, resourcefulness, communication, and leadership in its team members.
- Spread alternative energy awareness throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
In 2008, the Solar Car Team completed its first North American Solar Challenge, finishing 11th of 15 teams in the 2400 mile race from Plano, TX, USA to Calgary, AB, Canada. In 2009, the team placed 2nd (out of 11 teams) in the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Texas Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX. In 2010, the team placed 9th in the American Solar Challenge, from Broken Arrow, OK to Naperville, IL. The team celebrated their 20th year anniversary in 2019.
The team began in 1999 with the creation of their first car originally named Firefly. Years later, the team was given a huge sponsorship from Stone Farm who owned the 1982 Kentucky Derby Winner, Gato del Sol. In honor of the farm's significant support the team renamed the car to Gato del Sol I. The name seemed fitting for the team since Gato del Sol literally translate to "Cat of the sun", which matched well with the school's mascot of a Wildcat. The team tries to build a new car every three to four years with the intent to improve each new model as well as complying with rules and regulations set by the ASC/FSGP officials.
FSGP lap times are recorded in the format mm:ss.s, while ASC stage times are recorded as hh:mm:ss.
|Name||Years Active||Number||Image||Wheels||Cells||Races and Results|
|Firefly/Gato del Sol I||1999-2003||4||4||BP Solar Cells||
|Gato del Sol II||2003-2007||4||3||480 Sunpower A-300 cells||
|Gato del Sol III||2007-2010||4 (2007-2009)
||3||480 Sunpower A-300 cells (1200W Peak)|
|Gato del Sol IV||2010-2014||3||3||2000 Emcore Advanced Triple-Junction Gallium Arsenide cells||
|Gato del Sol V||2014-2017||3||3||354 Sunpower C60 encapsulated by Grape Solar cells (21.5% efficiency), 66 Emcore Advanced Triple-Junction Gallium Arsenide cells||
|Gato del Sol VI||2018-present||3||4||260 SunPower E60 bin ME1 24.3% efficiency, encapsulated by SunCat Solar LLC||
- KETV Omaha
- USA Today, Sunny days ahead for solar car race, July 16, 2008
- Kentucky Living Magazine, Racing with the Sun, December 2008
- The Morehead News, Guardian hosts UK Solar Team, November 11, 2008
- Lexington Herald-Leader, UK Solar Car Builders Celebrate, July 28, 2008
- KMTV Omaha, Drivers Race Cross Country Without Gas, July 16, 2008
- University of Kentucky News, Solar Car Crosses Calgary Finish Line, July 23, 2008