By Alexis Powers
One of the most challenging aspects of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is something very few people, including the team members, see. Each of the student-built, solar-powered houses must travel from collegiate campuses across the United States and around the world to the competition site in Irvine, California. As the decathletes watch two years of hard work being hauled away, they are left to hope that everything arrives safely at Orange County Great Park later this month.
Czech Technical University‘s AIR House has one of the longest journeys to Solar Decathlon 2013. On Aug. 5, the house began its 32-day trip. Packed in seven standard 40-foot shipping containers, the house traveled from Prague to Hamburg, Germany, by train. On Aug. 10, Air House boarded the Halifax Express cargo ship for a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Through the end of August, it will sail through the Caribbean before passing from the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean. From the Mexican port of Manzanillo, AIR House will follow the coast north to Los Angeles, where it is scheduled to arrive Sept. 6.
Thanks to geolocation services, the Czech Technical University team is able to track the progress of its house online. Find out where AIR House is today, including how fast it is traveling, at the Marine Traffic website.
Vienna University of Technology loaded its LISI house onto six trucks two weeks ago to begin its journey to Solar Decathlon 2013. After reaching Salzburg, the house was transferred to a freight train headed for Bremerhaven, which is one of the larger cargo ports in Europe. The wooden house then sets sail across the Atlantic, cushioned by moisture-absorbing bags that reduce the risk of component damage.
Whether hailing from North Carolina or Norwich, Arizona or Alberta, Stanford or Santa Clara, all of the houses competing in Solar Decathlon 2013 are scheduled to arrive onsite for the start of assembly on Sept. 23. And then the real journey begins.
Alexis Powers is a member of the Solar Decathlon communications team.