Saturday, February 6, 2010

Solar-power + youthful energy = Sikat

"Solar power + youthful energy = Sikat"
Sun.Star Davao, Feb. 6, 2010

They dreamed, believed and dared.

The impressive performance of the Philippines’ first ever solar-powered car, “Sinag” (Rays of the Sun), inspired the De La Salle University (DLSU)-Manila engineering students and teachers to design and create its ‘faster and more furious’ successor, “Sikat” (Sunrise).

Sinag finished 12th among 20 competing teams during the 2007 World Solar Car Challenge in Australia, beating cars from other first world countries like Canada and France.

Recently, the 10-member delegation of the Sikat team visited the city as part of its momentous 50-day tour across the Philippines. Sikat had an exhibit at the SM City Davao’s atrium. Afterwards, it had a campus tour at Ateneo De Davao University and University of Mindanao.

The road show’s objective is to make Filipinos aware of the important use of solar energy. In addition, it was a good avenue to prepare the dynamic team for the 2011 World Solar Car Challenge in Australia.

I was privileged to have dinner with the Sikat team during our get-together with fellow De La Salle Alumni Association (DLSAA)-Davao chapter members last week.

The Manila-based group was headed by DLSU engineering faculty members Engr. Jack Catalan (assistant project leader), Martin Kalaw, Ingko Marfori and Byron Omboy with DLSU engineering students Anna Liza Mauhay, Carl Mamawal, Jeffrey Yu, Danver Panganiban, Jonathan Go and Sidney Quinia.

Touted as the “improved version of Sinag”, it took thirty one students and teachers of DLSU’s Mechanical and Electronics and Communications Engineering Departments six months to finish Sikat, in partnership with the Philippine Solar Car Society Inc.

The ground-breaking project is strongly supported by De La Salle University-Manila, Sunpower Corp., Ford Philippines, Pilipinas Shell, Motolite, First Gen, Adphoto, Air21, Alternergy, MTV Philippines, SM Supermalls, Tan Yan Kee Foundation, U-Freight, and WWF.

“The smaller and sleeker Sikat features intensified power, higher level of performance and new aerodynamic properties. Sikat shows what the youth can do and points out that there is much to do in the academe in creating more clean energy sources”, shared Dean Dr. Pag-asa Gaspillo of the DLSU College of Engineering in a previous interview.
After our intimate dinner, the DLSAA members excitedly dropped by the University of Mindanao to see Sikat for ourselves.
The sight of the actual masterpiece made our jaws drop. I’ve read a review that described Sikat’s design as comparable to a “flat jet aircraft”.
We were informed by the team that “Sikat’s body is made of lightweight carbon fiber which is utilized by F1 car models”. Compared to its predecessor, Sikat weighs 100 kilograms lighter and can outrun Sinag’s highest speed of 112 kph.
New generation sun power cells encapsulated the car’s top surface. The solar cells were supplied by “Sunpower, a company that provides the highest efficiency solar cells in the world. The solar cells are manufactured in Laguna where hundreds of thousands of cells are exported to other countries”.
Sikat’s components and materials cost P5 million. It has been made to harness the power of the sun and convert it into energy. Solar panels on the car’s surface recharge energy when exposed to sunlight thereby eliminating the need for fossil fuels.
No doubt, Sikat is a testament to the Filipinos’ ingenuity, concern for the environment and global competitiveness.
Although it may take decades before such a solar-powered car will be available in the market, Sikat is literally a shining example of what the Filipino youth can do if they dreamed, believed and dared.
Solar power + youthful energy = SIKAT...ANIMO LA SALLE!
Special thanks to Diana Debbie Liu and Bong Canete for the photos.
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