CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- "Sikat" will make its last historic run from the south Clark entry to the Tarlac exit point of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) early Sunday.

Sikat, the country’s second solar car, is on its semi-final leg of its nationwide tour and made a stop at SM City Pampanga here before moving to Laoag later, as it prepares to compete in the 2011 World Solar Challenge in Australia.

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Following the resounding success of Sinag, the Philippines’ first solar car, the Philippine Solar Challenge Society has designed and created Sikat to prove that the Filipino has the capability to lead in solar power technology.

Sikat was designed and assembled by a group of faculty and students from the Mechanical Engineering and the Electronics and Communications Engineering departments of De La Salle University-Manila, in partnership with the Philippine Solar Challenge Society Inc.

"We thought that if other countries could develop a solar car, why can't we? The idea started with that and the project was given to us," said Ian Anthony Jurado of La Salle ECE batch 106.

He said Sikat, like its predecessor Sinag that figured prominently in championship races abroad, was created to the tune of P5 million.

"Our aim is to make every Filipino aware of the benefits of the use of solar energy, through a series of provincial roadshows that connect it with the general public," said Jurado.

Sikat media coordinator Gener Gabinete said apart from presenting Sikat as a technological breakthrough, its nationwide roadshow was meant to create awareness about alternative sources of energy, increase consciousness about environmental protection, and harness the full potential of natural forms of renewable power.

Both Sinag and Sikat run on solar energy converted into electricity by photovoltaic cells and stored using lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries.

While solar cars are not yet a practical form of transportation today, they have been raced in competitions like the World Solar Challenge that promotes the development of alternative energy technology, such as solar cells.

The bodies of the solar cars are made out of carbon fiber in order to be as light as possible to achieve a higher running speed required in competition.

The cars’ top surface is covered with solar cells from Sunpower, the highest efficiency commercial solar cells in the world, also manufactured in Laguna, Philippines, and exported to other countries.

Sikat is designed as a single-seater race car with three wheels. It is front wheel drive using in-wheel motor, which is a direct transmission, in-wheel CSIRO Surface-Type brushless permanent magnet motor rated at 1.8kW, with 97 percent efficiency controlled via a Tritium motor driver.

Sikat is expected to run at about 80 kilometer per hour (kph) to 100 kph. If battery charged is utilized, the car can run up to 110 kph for a limited amount of time.

Running from battery power alone and cruising at 80 kph on a flat road, it has a range of 400 kilometers.

However, if the run includes daylight hours, with clear skies, the range can extend up to 933 kilometers. (JTD)