PHOTO CAPTION: Power of One on ice road near Tuktoyaktuk.

Solar Car First to Cross Arctic Sea

Marcelo da Luz takes Power of One solar car for 116 mile drive across frozen polar sea.

Published: 13-Apr-2010

Solar car arrived in the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada after successfully traveling 187km (116 miles) from the town of Inuvik over one of the longest seasonal ice roads in the world. The expedition took 9.5 hours from start to finish. The creative force behind the project, Marcelo da Luz, drove the three wheeled, non-heated solar car over terrain treacherous even for large semi-trucks.

Temperature at departure was -7 C and skies were sunny. Wind was from the south. Towards the beginning of the trip, the solar car was able to reach speeds of 70kmh traveling over smooth and wavy ice. Worsening conditions over the Arctic Ocean close to Tuktoyaktuk forced da Luz to slow to 30-40kmh.

The team dealt with 4 flat tires when ice cracks several inches wide, running parallel with the road, swallowed the solar car’s wheels. Alarming spinouts came to be expected as da Luz alternated driving on ice and snow. The team had to weigh risks between slipping and hitting a snow covered crack. Temperature on the ice road dropped to -10 C. The solar car departed Inuvik with a complete charge and arrived to Tuktoyatuk “on solar fumes.”

The ice was approximately 1.5 – 2 meters (4.5 - 6 feet) thick and rated for loads not to exceed 60,000 kilos (66 tons). At the last section of the drive, a frozen pressure wave to the right indicated that the road was out in the open Arctic Ocean.

On Saturday, April 10th, 2010 at 8:30pm The Power of One (XOF1) accomplished its mission. However, the team will push themselves even further are planning for a return drive to Inuvik on Tuesday, April 13th after recharging the solar car batteries with the Arctic Sun. The return trip promises additional challenges. Recent sunny weather creates uncertainty surrounding ice road conditions.

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