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Students overcome scant resources to put green prototype on Hebron's diesel and donkey polluted roads
Rachel Shabi in Jerusalem
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 18 July 2010 20.05 BST
the solar car built by students at Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron Creative engineering …
Visitors to the West Bank town of Hebron this summer might find a strange-looking white vehicle motoring through its streets – the first Palestinian solar-powered car.
The product of an environmentally friendly project for Palestinian engineering students, the car is bedecked with banks of solar panels and doesn't manage to reach a speed much above 19mph (30kph) – but it is being lauded as a feat of creative engineering in the face of limited funds and scant resources.
"It was a complicated project and our students designed and built everything in this car from scratch," says Dr Zahdi Salhab, director of the mechanical engineering department at Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron.
The car, which took several months to design, is equipped with a 2bhp electric engine fed by a battery that stores energy harnessed by roof-mounted reflective solar panels.
Although the region is blessed with abundant sunshine, the car battery can also be charged using mains electricity on cloudy days.
The three students responsible for the car were part of a project developing renewable energy sources to replace the diesel, petrol or donkey power more often employed in the area. "We have almost no industry, so nearly all our pollution is from vehicles," says Dr Salhab.
He hopes that the project will attract funding to enable another stage in development, so that the car could potentially be put to use across the West Bank. "It cost around $4,000 [£2,600] to build, but we would need double that to build a real car that will perform better, go faster, for longer and be able to drive in all conditions."