A new record for CERN: Photon accelerates to 85 km/h!

The solar vehicule from the Solar Club of CERN, nicely named Photon, will soon drive a new race. Three members of the club will accompany it to Cyprus, where it will start the competition, on 19th June.


William and Photon ready to go to Cyprus (9 June 2010).

A single hull of aircraft material to reduce weight, a roof of photovoltaic panels for energy and three wheels to propel itself to 85km/h... Photon is a prototype electro-solar vehicle. Identified under the term "electric tricycle", it was created by the CERN Solar Club, with assistance from l’École Technique des Métiers (ETM) in Geneva. "We started developing the first version of Photon in 1986", says Jean Donnier, one of its designers and also a founding member of the club. "Since then we have changed Photon 4 times. Photon has found its form and will compete June 19 in the race "The Cyprus Institute-Solar Car Challenge 2010". It has already participated in many races, Switzerland, Austria and France, where it won in Paris. But it is a veteran of 25 years!" exclaims William van Sprolant, team leader for the preparation of Photon.

The solar pannel that powers Photon.

"To prepare ourselves for the rules of the race, we have had to make some modifications to improve the safety of our vehicle: we added a safety cage and a belt, two circuit breakers to cut the two sources of energy (solar and battery Lithium-Polymer) from the cockpit, etc."

With the club's president, Paulus Gelissen, these three passionate about ecology, have been on their way to Cyprus since June 11, with Photon on its trailer. "We decided to travel with my car, because with three it is more ecological," justifies Paulus. "Attending an event that promotes renewable energy by sending Photon as cargo, and us arriving in a plane would not have been consistent! "

Jean Donnier (left), William van Sprolant (centre) and Paulus Gelissen (right) starting at CERN (Photo courtesy P. Gelissen).

On June 19, it is William who drove the car under the sun of Cyprus, facing six other participants in the race. We wish him luck and will give you the results of the race in an upcoming issue!

Results from Cyprus (21 June):

Photon was the fastest car on the track: 33 laps in 1 hour (1'47'/lap). The winning car of the Challenge-category did 44 laps in 2 hours (2'43''/lap).


Watch the video about Photon, a few days before leaving to Cyprus:

A club for the environment

William photographed in front of DOROTHEE, his device to recover oil from water.

The focus of the Solar Club, is not only solar, but environmental. For example, William imagined and built DOROTHEE, a device to recover oil from water, the idea was to make DOROTHEE available at the oil spill in the Galapagos Islands in January 2001. "I had already imagined the concept 32 years ago, when the oil spill from the Amoco Cadiz occurred. Still thinking ecologically, the machine could not just be created from anything: It is made of recycled material from CERN's experiments. For example the two cylinders come from the experiment CHARM, the beams and other pieces come directly from the recycled zone located at building 133." Explains Paulus

Le schéma de fonctionnement de Dorothée.

"Since I have successfully tested DOROTHEE in France in Brest in the Centre d’Expérimentations de Documentation et de Recherche sur les pollutions accidentelles des Eaux (CEDRE). The advantage of this machine is that it is very selective, recovering 10,000 litres of oil an hour, with less than 5% water." William and Paulus have offered to make DOROTHEE available for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Watch the video on DOROTHEE:

  More photos of Photon: http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1272415

by Alizée Dauvergne