Solar Powered Cars:

Years ago, no one ever thought that solar powered vehicles are even possible. There are solar-powered calculators or solar batteries that can run small devices but as for solar-powered car engines, many have remained skeptical until they finally saw actual vehicles that run on the energy of the sun created for exhibits in various science and technology fairs. These days, many are already considering on the possibility that, in the next couple of years, mass-market solar powered vehicles will be available to consumers in replacement for the ones that run on oil fuel.

With fuel prices on the rise, the need for alternative fuel to run our cars is increasing. Add the increased emissions of green house gases to this fact and it is no surprise that many alternative fuel concepts are coming to the surface. Many concepts are being put to the test nowadays and some automotive companies have brought out cars that run on other forms of energy. Of the alternative fuel concepts, the oldest concept has been that of using solar power to drive out cars. The elements of nature are for human kind to make use of and every need of the human race is present in the nature around us. We just need to identify it and put it to use.

The sun is known to be the basic source of life on earth. Without the sun, life on planet earth would not be possible. The energy that comes from the sun is called solar energy. Light and heat from the sun are being used for many purposes. Various heating systems, thermal power plants and also electricity from solar energy are in use thanks to the sun. This solar energy if properly trapped and put to use will help one to run a lot of appliances around him. There are many homes today that run totally on solar power and those home owners are happy about the investment they have made. Solar energy is available to everyone and making proper use of it is what many researchers are trying to do.

Solar powered cars when running on stored energy tend to be very slow. Steeper roads would mean that the energy used is more and the distance it can travel is less. So, ideal roads for solar powered cars would be to have leveled roads. The race is on to create more powerful batteries that has a larger storage capacity and also is smaller and lighter. If that happens then solar powered cars would no longer be small, light weighted cars that can carry only one person. Many engineers and scientists are constantly developing the components that make up a solar powered car to ensure that somewhere in the near future, solar powered cars can replace the today’s combustion engine cars.

Solar powered cars are pollution free and also solar energy is inexhaustible. This is why so much of research is being put into making solar powered cars. It has been a combined effort of scientists, engineers and various companies from all over the world to ensure that today’s solar powered cars are able to travel longer distances and also maybe in a few years be able to run on our roads like any other normal car. There are a lot of problems that engineers and scientists have to tackle before they can roll out a solar powered car that is efficient and economical. The encouraging news about solar powered cars is that it is believed solar cars would some day in the near future replace the existing combustion cars. This would mean lesser emissions of green house gases thereby making our earth a better place for us to live in.

Cost-efficient:


Solar-powered vehicles are, without a doubt, more cost-efficient than the typical cars that run on oil fuel. After all, these cars harness energy from something that is abundant ‘ the energy from the sun. So long as the sun shines, these cars should be able to run just as efficiently as any other type of vehicle. Because they run on solar power, these vehicles will also enjoy higher mileage and longer life spans according to most experts. Solar powered vehicles offer a lot of benefits to the potential consumers who would be willing to invest on such cars.

While solar powered vehicles are not yet practical day-to-day transportation devices, it’s only a matter of time before they actually get introduced into the market.

Solar powered vehicles literally run on the energy coming from the sun. They follow the same idea as that of other solar-powered devices such as calculators or batteries. The surface of the car has solar panels that collect solar energy. Photovoltaic cells installed in the vehicle work to convert this energy into electrical energy that the engine will need to run the car. In theory, solar powered vehicles will only run when the sun is present. However, numerous studies are now being conducted with regards to the creation of energy trapping components that will enable the car to store enough energy for it to run even at night.

The rules state that each car’s solar cells can only cover an area of 8 square metres, which is slightly less than the area of a small bathroom. And the cells can’t stretch out from the car like giant wings! But with a lightweight car and an efficient battery for storing extra power when the sun is bright, a solar car can manage a speed of 100 kilometres per hour and can continue – though usually much more slowly – on cloudy days or when the sun is low in the sky.

Of course, the cars in the solar challenge are expensive ‘one-offs’ and are not your average family sedan. Solar-powered motoring is still some way from being accessible to everyone. But it’s a start – in the same way that the great air races from Paris to London in the early part of this century honed the skills of aircraft designers, so that it eventually became possible to send jumbo jets around the world.

Probably the first widely used solar vehicles will be small cars with roof-mounted photovoltaic cells, batteries for electricity storage, and the ability to top up with mains electricity when left in the garage. Designed for commuting short distances in the suburbs, they will be built with the know-how accumulating from events like the World Solar Challenge.

Solar array:

The solar array consists of hundreds of photovoltaic solar cells converting sunlight into electricity. Cars can use a variety of solar cell technologies; most often polycrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, or gallium arsenide.

The power produced by the solar array depends on the weather conditions, the position of the sun and the capacity of the array. At noon on a bright day, a good array can produce over 2 kilowatts (2.6 hp).

Some cars have employed free standing or integrated sails to harness wind energy.

Solar bicycles and motorcycles:

The first solar “cars” were actually tricycles or quadricycles built with bicycle technology. These were called solarmobiles at the first solar race, the Tour de Sol in Switzerland in 1985 with about 60 participants, 30 using exclusively solar power and 30 solar-human-powered hybrids. A few true solar bicycles were built, either with a large solar roof, a small rear panel, or a trailer with a solar panel. Later more practical solar bicycles were built with foldable panels to be set up only during parking. Even later the panels were left at home, feeding into the electric mains, and the bicycles charged from the mains. Today highly developed electric bicycles are available and these use so little power that it costs little to buy the equivalent amount of solar electricity. The “solar” has evolved from actual hardware to an indirect accounting system. The same system also works for electric motorcycles, which were also first developed for the Tour de Sol. This is rapidly becoming an era of solar production.

Sources: Science, Power Solar System

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