Panasonic Corporation (NYSE:PC)(TOKYO:6752)("Panasonic") announced its sponsorship of Tokai University's solar car team, the defending champion for the 2011 World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia, one of the largest solar-powered car races in the world. Under the sponsorship agreement, Panasonic will supply the Japanese university team with its HIT®*1 solar cells boasting the world's highest level*2 of energy conversion rate, as well as high-capacity lithium-ion batteries.
The solar car race, first held in 1987, sees many teams from universities, corporations and other groups around the world competing to race 3,021 km through central Australia from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south. The Tokai University team, who won the last race held in 2009 with its solar car using Panasonic lithium-ion battery cells to store its solar generated power, will look for its second straight win at 2011 WSC, which will be held from October 16 to 23.
Panasonic HIT solar cells are hybrids of single crystalline silicon surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers. With high conversion efficiency, excellent temperature performance and high energy output per unit area, the cells are ideal for obtaining maximum power within a limited space, such as the rooftops of private homes. HIT cells are also suited for solar cars competing in the WSC because the WSC regulations limit the total area of solar cells installed on the body.
The batteries Panasonic is providing are cylindrical 18650-type (18 mm diameter, 65 mm length) high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells having the company's proprietary nickel-based positive electrode. They will be mounted in arrays within a storage battery module. Featuring the industry's highest level of energy density, the battery cell is light, high capacity and long-lasting and enables making battery module lighter. As the WSC also limits the weight of the rechargeable battery module mounted on the solar car, the high capacity and lightweight Panasonic battery cells are favored by many contenders. This year, Panasonic will provide the high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells to five other solar car teams including Delft University of Technology and University of Twente from the Netherlands, Stanford University and University of California from the U.S.A., and Nanyang Technological University from Singapore.
By providing energy solutions to create electricity from sunlight and store excess power using a combination of its high-efficiency HIT solar cells and high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, Panasonic will support the students' challenge in the solar car race that will be run under harsh weather conditions.
*1. HIT stands for Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin-layer.
*2. As a mass-produced, home-use solar generation system, based on Panasonic's survey (as of March 2011)