Future Lighting donates Luxeon Rebel LEDs for solar car project

June 25, 2008
The U. of Minnesota student-built car will use red, amber and white LEDs for all signal, front and forward lighting to compete in the 2400-mile North America Solar Challenge.
U. Minn. car and team

Future Lighting Solutions, a provider of LED lighting components and solution support, announced today that it has donated Luxeon Rebel LEDs from Philips Lumileds for use on a solar car being built by students at the University of Minnesota. The car will compete in the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, a 2,400-mile race scheduled for July 13-22.

“The LEDs available to us for our solar-powered car three years ago were larger and nowhere near as bright as the Luxeon Rebel LEDs available today. These newer power LEDs take a big step forward in power and usability,” said Jeff Hammer, a UM instructor and solar car project faculty advisor.

“This contribution from Future Lighting Solutions played an important role in optimizing the vehicle’s signal lighting, minimizing power requirements, and helping us assemble the resources to complete this year’s solar car project," said Hammer.

UM students utilized red, amber and white Luxeon LEDs for all signal, front and forward lighting on the vehicle because of their low energy consumption, compact form factor and high light output. The energy savings is critical for a car that must run entirely on solar power for a 10-day race with no recharging permitted, and the small footprint allows the maximum surface area on the vehicle for solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity.

The Luxeon Rebel LEDs are being used for headlights, taillights, turn signals, brake lights, and strobe lights, which are required to be flashing at all times to ensure visibility of the 3-foot-tall car on public roads. The team used 54 LEDs for the overall signal lighting system and 54 to build the backup components required for the project, with the rest reserved for future use.

“We supported UM’s solar car project as part of a continuing effort to provide engineering students with access to the latest lighting technologies,” said Lawrence Madanda, marketing director of Future Lighting Solutions. “We believe that the engineering solutions developed in programs like the one at UM for the solar car will result in solid-state lighting solutions that help lower energy consumption and are more environmentally sustainable.”

The UM solar car, named Centaurus, was designed and built by a 30-student team from the Institute of Technology in the University of Minnesota’s college of engineering, physical sciences and mathematics. Construction took more than 30,000 hours and was funded through cash donations and in-kind donations of parts and materials.

Twenty-six international teams will compete in the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, sponsored by Toyota. The UM team placed second place in the last competition in 2005.