Miracle of Solar Powered Cars

solar car

Imagine if you could drive your vehicle without spending a single dollar on fuel. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? However, if there was a car that uses solar power instead of petrol, it would become more than just a sweet fantasy.

The concept of sun powered cars is real. They are a lot like home photovoltaic systems. Once people install a set of panels on the rooftop of their house, they start producing renewable and harmless energy. And this energy is cheap to the point that some keen homeowners manage to send surplus back to the grid and profit from it. No wonder that more and more people decide to make use of solar energy.

But is it possible for a car to convert sunlight into electricity and use it as a fuel? The answer is ‘yes’. And this electricity will fuel the battery that makes the motor of the car work properly. Scientists even managed to develop systems that deliver power right to the electric motor.

This process involves PV cells and they are the key element that can help to create a new generation of electric cars powered by solar energy alone. A while ago no one could imagine that photovoltaics can be used to build solar panels and turn the energy of sun into usable electricity. However, already today a great number of conscious house owners as well as businessmen purchase solar PV systems to cover their energy needs with cheap and Eco-friendly electricity.

Operating principle

All photovoltaic cells are made of semiconductor (often silicon). It absorbs sunlight and frees electrons. This process creates a flow that is supposed to generate usable energy that is either stored in batteries or used directly to power motor of a solar car.

Right now solar energy lets solar cars achieve speeds up to 100 km per hour. And this is just a beginning. Inventors plan to improve these results. They believe that thanks to small weight solar cars will be able to move faster than cars with a gasoline-powered engine.

And apart from being economical, green and Eco-friendly these solar vehicles are incredibly efficient. While your typical petrol engine car uses only 15% of energy from burned fuel to move, sun powered systems can achieve efficiency of 90% or more.

Modern solar models

solar car productionToday you can hardly purchase a solar car from your local dealer. The demand is not high enough while construction requires involvement of experienced professionals and use of expensive materials. However, these obstacles cannot stop particular enthusiasts. You will be surprised to learn that people started developing their own models of a futuristic solar vehicle back in the 70s.

Surely, big companies noticed the tendency. Some manufacturers even tried to create solar hybrids and develop various modifications that employ solar energy. These attempts lead to the idea that soon enough there will be mass production of cars power by solar energy alone.

However, it is not that easy to completely stop gasoline dependence. It will take a while to create both practical and comfortable model of solar powered vehicle that needs nothing but the energy of sun. Today inventors mostly develop hybrid models but successful attempts of solar powered vehicles do exist.

Back in 2006 French company managed to create a prototype that uses two different types of renewable energy (solar and wind) as well as battery power. This car has three seats and designed specifically for urban use. Its roof is covered with solar cells and there is a turbine installed to use wind power.

Downsides and obstacles

While the idea of environmentally friendly cars keeps bothering bright minds of scientists, they are yet to overcome certain difficulties. First of all, these cars are too expensive for an average city driver since the price of high quality solar cells is rather high. It is not a secret that the more they cost the better they can capture and convert sunshine.

But what if there is no light to capture? This is another issue developers have to deal with. Just like with solar panels for home use you can use both scattered and direct light to produce energy, the amount strongly depends on the intensity of sunlight. This problem can be solved by installation of additional batteries but both price and weight of the model will naturally go up.

The other issue is the exterior of these cars. The majority of prototypes have only one seat and aesthetics are far from fancy. For now it is really difficult to balance appealing design and functionality and the fact that these cars are supposed to be covered in PV cells does not make the task easier. Additionally, the temperature inside of solar vehicle can go up pretty quickly which will not improve driving experience.

But despite all complications, solar cars can positively change our life. As long as they can help cut our dependence on gasoline and preserve the environment, the conception of solar powered cars should continue to evolve.

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