This is all about augmentations of human energy with electric power for cycling
as the most sustainable form of human transportations

Friday, June 28, 2013

Suntrip - propelled by SUN


The Sun Trip is a simple and powerful idea : a starting point, an end point  7200 km away  and a free path for adventurers    on   solar cycle.    So  twelve   days  back  many  bikes, tandem, handcycle  and  trikes,  all   carrying solar panels left France  headed  EAST.  All had common   goal   Astana  in Kazakhstan  but  no fixed route to reach there.    This is  a  An adventure in energy independence   as  put by a  competitor on a   trike -  Jorge Mo├»ta.



The  story  being  told  in    French language all the way  and we  have to be  satisfied  with  google  /  bing translate.  Azub  team  posts their  progress  in English  also  http://www.facebook.com/CzechSolarTeam?ref=stream&hc_location=stream
and  that  seems  easiest way to  follow  the race. 



Three  years  ago  a  Frenchman  Florian Bailly  pedaled  into Tokyo.  It was  a long trip   through 12 countries and across two continents.     Uniqueness of his  trip   lies in the use of  solar panels to recharge his batteries.  After leaving France, the    solar cyclist traveled    through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China, before finally reaching his destination, japan.  



In the future he says its his dream to create a new solar electric bike race from France to other places in the world  in    the following  article  - http://www.english.rfi.fr/environment/20101012-french-solar-cyclist-finishes-epic-journey-tokyo

Sure.  He kept  his word.  He has organized  a  7300 km  solar electric bike  race  that  is now in progress.  Now there  are about thirty participants and no two  machines are  alike.  Every team  built  their  own   e-bike   and  traveling without support crew.    No  fixed  route.  Just  two  checkpoints.  Naturally  their  position is all spread out  now   in  http://www.dolink.fr/carte/the-sun-trip     

Northern route    means  less solar  radiation but  flatter  terrain.  Southern   route means  more  help  from Sun  to   tackle  hilly  roads.  The leaders of the North route are now in Ukraine, the South route leader is in Turkey  on different  sides  of  Black sea  with    all others  behind them. 

One of the  lead racer in North  Raf Van Hulle  is a Belgian  Architect  and he explains the  build of  his  e-bike in this video  -  Yes.  I am partial to video with subtitling  because of my hearing loss.  He  has  modified  a Hase Pino  tandem  placing extra solar panel on front seat.  




Here is another  competitor,  in trike - Jorge Moita  who is  also doing very well. 





While  searching suitable trike  for me  three years back,   I   had short listed  AZUB   trike   from Czech  republic.  They are  one  among top five  manufacturers in the world.   Naturally  Honza Gala with whom I exchanged much correspondence  appears  familiar.  Honza and his wife  had  pedaled in  India  in  the same year   2010.    http://www.azub.eu/blog/azub-eco-trike/azub-recumbent-in-the-world-highest-road-pass  &  http://www.galla.cz/cz-cyklistika/zanskar-2010-pripravy-preparations/#more-904


They  are  all  traveling without support  teams.  I  had felt the need  for  the  support team while  traveling across India  and  yes,  part of the reason  is  that  I am handicapped.  They  have  suffered  all sort of hurdles including dog bites.  

I  tried  to build a similar  solar powered   vehicle   after returning from that  1600 km trip    but unfortunately getting  the    specific    unique   components from abroad  is a very   difficult job.  Had  lot of discussion with  Mohith and Ashok.  The  response   from  solar   panel manufacturers  in India  was  ZERO.  


The   panels  made in India  are   low in efficiency,    high  in  weight, sturdy  built to withstand  cyclones  &  of unsuitable  voltage -  12 V.  I  needed  high  efficiency  36 V output.   It is not difficult to  rewire before lamination  stage but Indian  manufacturers  simply  do not listen to village  bumpkins. They  can certainly    help as in above video.  


There  was  safety factor too.  I  had a  doubt  if  the  other road users, especially on motor cycle  will  show  decency.  Making it  more visible will be a compromise on  aerodynamics  and  will need more energy  to  push forward.  

Then  there was no way to  charge  Li Ion batteries  with    DC energy  was  major  hurdle. Even  using  solar panels  means   need  to  take   DC to AC to DC  route   means  considerable  energy lost during conversion.    Now  there is  a   charger  available in  America.   This  custom convertor  means it can  directly  connect  panels to batteries.    


My health and finances  are  also  not  strong  enough   to  make it happen.   Whirlpool  of  family problems  sucked me and  so  I  had to  keep the project  pending.   Research  in  electric cycle  mobility  is  totally  funded  by  common mans savings.  Naturally  it  suffers.  Anyway  this  race offers lot of hopes  and performance  of different  teams will   show future solar mobility options.  Some participants  have covered  200 plus km means  this  is practical too.  Btw, that is  something  I have been saying  loudly   past three years  but few people  listen.

PS:  My  bicycle  that  carried me in many parts of the world   had a  sticker in dynamo that said " Nuclear Energy - No Thanks "  that  I picked up in Germany  after  a  anti nuclear plant protest that  I had participated.