MALOLOS CITY, AUGUST 9, 2011 (STAR) (Photo is loading... La Salle students prepare Sikat II, the country’s latest solar car, for a test run at the North Luzon Expressway yesterday in preparation for the 2011 World Solar Challenge in Australia. BOY SANTOS)

Sikat II, the country’s third solar powered car made by Filipino students, made its first public appearance yesterday via a test run at the 83-kilometer North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in preparation for the 2011 World Solar Challenge in Australia on Oct. 16 to 23.

Ramon Agustines, president of the Philippine Solar Car Challenge Society Inc., said the presence of solar cars shows that solar energy is now being utilized in the country.

Agustines said Sikat II has the potential to top the World Solar Challenge due to some improvements in its design and mechanical features.

It sports a sleek and aerodynamic body made of lightweight carbon fiber-honeycomb composite.

It is lighter compared to Sinag which joined the same competition in 2007.

“Sikat II only weighs 170 to 180 kilograms compared to Sinag,” Agustines said, citing that the latter placed 12th in the 2007 race.

“This means that Sikat II can reach top speed in shorter time and can reserve more energy during the race which is needed in increasing speed,” he said.

For his part, Jack Catalan, team leader of Sikat II and a professor of the De La Salle University, said like Sinag, Sikat II can reach a top speed of 120 to 130 kilometers per hour.

“We used the same motor for Sinag and Sikat, but Sikat II is lighter and will have more energy during the race,” he said.

Catalan said they held the test run at the NLEX because they want to simulate the 3,000-kilometer stretch between Darwin and Adelaide in Australia where the race will be held.

“We thank the Manila North Tollways Corporation for allowing us to have our test run along the NLEX,” Catalan said, adding that this will help them identify problems in the car or improvements that have to be made.

He, however, noted one limitation of Sikat II – it cannot run when it is raining because it was designed and built for the Australian race.

“We gave more priority to the design and sleekness and less attention on the waterproofing because there is less rain where the race will be held,” he said.

Catalan also said building Sikat II highlights the capability of Filipinos to lead in terms of sustainable energy technology.

While it was pioneered by the Philippine Solar Car Society, it was designed and developed by 22 students and three professors from the Mechanical Engineering and Electronics Engineering departments of DLSU.

It is also supported by First Gen Corp., First Philec Solar, Energy Development Corp. and Sunpower.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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