At the University of Michigan, the power of the sun and the ingenuity of students are coming together in a race for recognition and knowledge.
Students at the University’s Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering will compete in the annual Solar Splash Race – a collegiate competition that challenges students to design, build and race a solar-powered boat that conforms to precise design specifications. In addition to racing their boats in maneuverability, endurance and sprint events, the teams must also compete in the areas of technical reports and project presentations. “We’re being judged on both the innovativeness of our design and the practical application of our technology,” notes team leader Deepak Aswani. “It forces us to view the project in terms of real-life applications.”
This year’s Solar Splash competition will be held at Pontchartrain Beach, outside New Orleans. When the University of Michigan’s entry hits the water, bearings donated by MRC Bearing Services will do their part in distributing power to the propellers. Most importantly, the composite pillow block bearings specified by the team will contribute to the boat’s low overall weight. “With a solar-powered boat, it’s important to have low weight so we’ll get the greatest fuel efficiency and highest possible speeds,” says Aswani. “Most bearings have a cast iron housing which would add to the weight. The MRC composite housing offers a solution in both strength and weight reduction.”
Aswani notes that the team appreciates both the innovative nature of the composite bearings and MRC’s generosity in donating them. “We focus on making the most of new materials in designing our entries.” he says. “The availability of bearings constructed of non-traditional materials, and MRC’s willingness to donate them, will help both our budget and our performance.”