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Encyclopedia > Solar car

A solar car is an electric vehicle powered by solar energy obtained from solar panels on the surface of the car. Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert the sun's energy directly into electrical energy. Solar cars are not practical day-to-day transportation devices at present, but are primarily demonstration vehicles and engineering exercises. For battery powered passenger automobiles, see battery electric vehicle. ... Solar power describes a number of methods of harnessing energy from the light of the sun. ... Photovoltaic tree in Styria, Austria Photovoltaics, or PV for short, is a solar power technology that uses solar cells or solar photovoltaic arrays to convert light from the sun directly into electricity. ... Electrical energy can refer to several closely related things. ...

Solar cars compete in races (often called rayces) such as the World Solar Challenge, The Dell-Winston Solar Challenge and the American Solar Challenge. These events are often sponsored by government agencies, such as the United States Department of Energy, who are keen to promote the development of alternative energy technology (such as solar cells). Such challenges are often entered by universities to develop their students' engineering and technological skills, but many business corporations have entered competitions as well, including teams from GM and Ford. There are also a small number of High school teams who build and race solar cars. They can not usually manage to race with corporate and college cars so there are solar races designed exclusively for high school teams, the best known and longest running being the Dell-Winston Solar Challenge. The Nuna 3 of the hattrick winning Dutch Nuna team The World Solar Challenge is a solar powered-car race over 3021 km through central Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. ... American Solar Challenge is a solar car race across North America. ... The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government responsible for energy policy and nuclear safety. ... A solar cell, a form of photovoltaic cell, is a device that uses the photoelectric effect to generate electricity from light, thus generating solar power (energy). ... For other uses, see Corporation (disambiguation). ... General Motors Corporation (NYSE: GM), also known as GM, is an American automobile maker with worldwide operations and brands including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Vauxhall. ... “Ford” redirects here. ...



Solar cars combine technology typically used in the aerospace, bicycle, alternative energy and automotive industries. Unlike typical race cars, solar cars are designed with severe energy constraints imposed by the race regulations. These rules limit the energy to only that collected from solar radiation and as a result optimizing the design to account for aerodynamic drag, vehicle weight, rolling resistance and electrical efficiency are paramount. Conventional thinking has to be challenged, for example, rather than a conventional automobile seat which would weigh tens of pounds, one championship solar car employed a nylon mesh seat combined with a five-point harness that weighed less than 3 pounds. Look up aerospace in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Bicycle (disambiguation). ... Future energy development face great challenges due to an increasing world population, demands for higher standards of living, demands for less pollution and a much discussed end to fossil fuels. ... Car redirects here. ... Solar irradiance spectrum at top of atmosphere. ... // Maize & Blue The 1993 Maize & Blue solar car was built by the University of Michigan Solar Car Team during the period from 1990 to 1993. ... For other uses of this word, see nylon (disambiguation). ...

The design of a solar car is governed by the work equation:

eta left{eta_bE + frac{Px}{v}right} = left{W C_{rr^1} + N C_{rr^2} v + frac{1}{2}rho C_d A v^2right}x +Wh + frac{N_a W v^2}{2g} [1]

Briefly, the left hand side represents the energy input into the car (batteries and power from the sun) and the right hand side is the energy needed to drive the car along the race route (overcoming rolling resistance, aerodynamic drag, going uphill and accelerating). Everything in this equation can be estimated except v. The parameters include:

η = Motor, controller and drive train efficiency (decimal)
ηb = Watt-hour battery efficiency (decimal)
E = Energy available in the batteries (joules)
P = Estimated average power from the array (watts)
x = Daily race route distance (meters)
W = Weight of the vehicle (newtons)
C_{rr^1} = First coefficient of rolling resistance (non-dimensional)
C_{rr^2} = Second coefficient of rolling resistance (newton-seconds per meter)
N = Number of wheels on the vehicle (integer)
ρ = Air density (kilograms per cubic meter)
Cd = Coefficient of drag (non-dimensional)
A = Frontal area (meters squared)
h = Total height that the vehicle will climb (meters)
Na = Number of times the vehicle will accelerate in a race day (integer)
g = acceleration due to gravity constant (meters per second squared)
v = Average velocity over the route (meters per second)

Solving the equation for velocity results in a large equation (approximately 100 terms). Using the power equation as the arbiter, vehicle designers can compare various car designs and evaluate the comparative performance over a given route. Combined with CAD and systems modeling, the power equation is a useful tool in solar car design. CAD is a TLA that may stand for: Cadiz Railroad (AAR reporting mark CAD) Canadian dollar – ISO 4217-code Capital Adequacy Directive Card Acceptance Device Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty Computer-aided design Computer-aided detection (medical) Computer-aided diagnosis (medical) Computer-assisted dispatch Computer-assisted drafting Coronary artery disease...

Driver's cockpit

Like many race cars, the driver's cockpit usually only contains room for one person, although a few cars do contain room for a second passenger. They contain some of the features available to drivers of traditional vehicles such as brakes, accelerator, turn signals, rear view mirrors (or camera), ventilation, and sometimes cruise control. A radio for communication with their support crews is almost always included. Motor racing and Motorsports redirect here. ... For the type of ferns known as brakes, see brake (fern). ... Cruise control (sometimes known as speed control or Autocruise) is a system to automatically control the speed of an automobile. ...

Solar cars are often fitted with gauges as seen in conventional cars. Aside from keeping the car on the road, the driver's main priority is to keep an eye on these gauges to spot possible problems. Cars without gauges available for the driver will almost always feature wireless telemetry. Wireless telemetry allows the driver's team to monitor the car's energy consumption, solar energy capture and other parameters and free the driver to concentrate on just driving. Drivers also have a safety harness, and optionally (depending on the race) a helmet similar to racing car drivers. A safety harness is an apparatus designed to protect a person working at an altitude from falling. ...

Electrical system

The electrical system is the most important part of the car's systems as it controls all of the power that comes into and leaves the system. The battery pack plays the same role in a solar car that a petrol tank plays in a normal car in storing power for future use. Solar cars use a range of batteries including lead-acid batteries, nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH), Nickel-Cadmium batteries (NiCd), Lithium ion batteries and Lithium polymer batteries. Lead-acid batteries are less expensive and easier to work with but have less power to weight ratio. Typically, solar cars use voltages between 84 and 170 volts. A battery pack is a set of any number of (preferably) identical batteries or individual battery cells. ... Lead-acid batteries are the most commonly used rechargeable batteries today. ... NIMH or NiMH may refer to: National Institute of Mental Health, a part of the United States National Institutes of Health. ... The nickel-cadmium battery (commonly abbreviated NiCd or NiCad) is a popular type of rechargeable battery for portable electronics and toys. ... Lithium ion batteries (sometimes abbreviated Li-Ion or Li-On) are a type of rechargeable battery commonly used in consumer electronics. ... Lithium polymer batteries (Li-Poly or LiPo) are rechargeable batteries which have technologically evolved from lithium ion batteries. ...

Power electronics monitor and regulate the car's electricity. Components of the power electronics include the peak power trackers, the motor controller and the data acquisition system.

The peak power trackers manage the power coming from the solar array to maximize the power and deliver it to be stored in the motor. They also protect the batteries from overcharging. The motor controller manages the electricity flowing to the motor according to signals flowing from the accelerator. A photovoltaic module is composed of individual PV cells. ...

Many solar cars have complex data acquisition systems that monitor the whole electrical system while even the most basic cars have systems that provide information on battery voltage and current to the driver. One such system utilizes Controller Area Network (CAN). Controller Area Network (CAN) is a broadcast, differential serial bus standard, originally developed in the 1980s by Robert Bosch GmbH, for connecting electronic control units (ECUs). ...

Mechanical systems

The mechanical systems are designed to keep friction and weight to a minimum while maintaining strength. Designers normally use titanium and composites to ensure a good strength-to-weight ratio.

Solar cars usually have three wheels, but some have four. Three wheelers usually have two front wheels and one rear wheel: the front wheels steer and the rear wheel follows. Four wheel vehicles are set up like normal cars or similarly to three wheeled vehicles with the two rear wheels close together.

Solar cars have a wide range of suspensions because of varying bodies and chassis. The most common front suspension is the double-A-arm suspension found in traditional cars. The rear suspension is often a trailer-arm suspension found in motor cycles. The front suspension components of a Ford Model T. Suspension is the term given to the system of springs, shock absorbers and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels. ...

Solar cars are required to meet rigorous standards for brakes. Disc brakes are the most commonly used due to their good braking ability and ability to adjust. Mechanical and hydraulic brakes are both widely used with the brakes designed to move freely by minimise brake drag. On automobiles, disc brakes are located within the wheel The disc brake is a device for slowing or stopping the rotation of a wheel. ...

Steering systems for solar cars also vary. The major design factors for steering systems are efficiency, reliability and precision alignment to minimise tire wear and power loss. The popularity of solar car racing has led to some tire manufacturers designing tires for solar vehicles. This has increased overall safety and performance.

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 cells are wired together into strings while strings are often wired together to form a panel. Panels normally have voltages close to the nominal battery voltage. The main aim is to get as many cells in as small a space as possible. Designers encapsulate the cells to protect them from the weather and breakage. A solar cell, a form of photovoltaic cell, is a device that uses the photoelectric effect to generate electricity from light, thus generating solar power (energy). ...

Designing a solar array is more than just stringing bunch of cells together. A solar array acts like a lot of very small batteries all hooked together in series. The total voltage produced is the sum of all cell voltages. The problem is that if a single cell is in shadow it acts like a diode, blocking the flow of current for the entire string of cells. To correct against this, array designers use by-pass diodes in parallel with smaller segments of the string of cells, allowing current to flow around the non-functioning cell(s). Another consideration is that the battery itself can force current backwards through the array unless there are blocking diodes put at the end of each panel. Closeup of the image below, showing the square shaped semiconductor crystal various semiconductor diodes, below a bridge rectifier Structure of a vacuum tube diode In electronics, a diode is a component that restricts the directional flow of charge carriers. ...

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[2], which is allowed by the race regulation. A sail is a surface intended to generate thrust by being placed in a wind; basically it is a vertically oriented wing. ...


Race strategy

Optimizing energy consumption is of prime importance in a solar car race. Therefore it is very important to be able to closely monitor the speed, energy consumption, energy intake from solar panel, among other things in real time. Some teams employ sophisticated telemetry that relays vehicle performance data to a computer in a following support vehicle. Telemetry is a technology that allows the remote measurement and reporting of information of interest to the system designer or operator. ...

The strategy employed depends upon the race rules and conditions. Most solar car races have set starting and stopping points where the objective is to reach the final point in the least amount of total time. Since aerodynamic drag force rises quadratically with speed, the energy the car consumes per second rises cubically (per meter travaled it rises quadratically with speed). Given the varied conditions in all races and the limited (and continuously changing) supply of energy, most teams have race speed optimization programs that continuously update the team on how fast the vehicle should be traveling. Look up Drag in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Solar car races

University of Michigan and University of Minnesota heading west toward the finish line in the North American Solar Challenge 2005

The two most notable solar car races are the World Solar Challenge and the North American Solar Challenge. They are contested by a variety of university and corporate teams. Corporate teams contest the race to give its design teams experience in working with both alternative energy sources and advanced materials (although some may view their participation as mere PR exercises). GM and Honda are among the companies who have sponsored solar teams. University teams enter the races because it gives their students experience in designing high technology cars and working with environmental and advanced materials technology. These races are often sponsored by agencies such as the US Department of Energy keen to promote renewable energy sources. Download high resolution version (2048x1536, 1039 KB)The Historic Edinburgh Castle File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Download high resolution version (2048x1536, 1039 KB)The Historic Edinburgh Castle File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... The University of Michigan Solar Car Team is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. ... Borealis III and team pose with the Tin Man outside the Mechanical Engineering building at the University of Minnesota. ... The Nuna 3 of the hattrick winning Dutch Nuna team The World Solar Challenge is a solar powered-car race over 3021 km through central Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. ... American Solar Challenge is a solar car race across North America. ... // Publicity according to etymonline. ...

The cars require intensive support teams similar in size to professional motor racing teams. This is especially the case with the World Solar Challenge where sections of the race run through very remote country.

There are other races, such as Suzuka, Phaethon, and the World Solar Rally. Suzuka is a yearly track race in Japan and Phaethon was part of the Cultural Olympiad in Greece right before the 2004 Olympics. Suzuka International Racing Course (Suzuka Circuit for short) was a host of the Formula One Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix, and is one of the oldest and most-famous motorsport race tracks in Japan. ... This article or section should be merged with Phaëton Phaethon A Greek god who the phrase a boy Doing a mans job comes from. ... Lining up on the starting grid at PingDong Airport on September 17th. ... The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, commonly known as the 2004 Summer Olympics were the 28th Summer Olympic Games. ...

The 2005 North American Solar Challenge, which ran from Austin, Texas, to Calgary, Alberta, was the successor of the American Solar Challenge. The ASC ran in 2001 and 2003 from Chicago, Illinois, to Claremont, California along old Route 66. The ASC was in turn the successor to the old GM Sunrayce, which was run across the country in 1990, 1993, and then every two years through 1999.

The 2005 North American Solar Challenge had two classes:

The North American Solar Challenge was sponsored in part by the US Department of Energy. However, funding was cut near the end of 2005, and the 2007 NASC will not happen. Recently, however, prospects of a NASC-like race in 2008 are looking up. 18 teams from around North America attended a conference in Topeka, KS on October 20-21 to decide upon rules for a 2008 race. Assuming that funding is found, this race is fairly sure to occur. The University of Michigan Solar Car Team is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. ... The Stanford solar car project is part of the Stanford University School of Engineering. ...

The 20th Anniversary race of the World Solar Challenge will be run in October of 2007, and is already shaping up to be a race to remember. Major regulation changes were released in June 2006 for this race, to build a new generation of solar car, which with little modification could be the basis for a practical proposition for sustainable transport and intended to slow down cars in the main event, which could easily exceed the speed limit (110 km/h) in previous years.

Solar drag races

Solar drag races are another form of solar racing. Unlike long distance solar races, solar dragsters do not use any batteries or pre-charged energy storage devices. Racers go head-to-head over a straight quarter kilometer distance. Currently, only one solar drag race is held each year on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice in Wenatchee, Washington, USA. The world record for this event is 29.5 seconds set by the South Whidbey High School team on June 23, 2007.[3] MC and BC series supercapacitors (up to 3000 farad capacitance) produced by Maxwell Technologies A supercapacitor or ultracapacitor is an electrochemical capacitor that has an unusually high energy density when compared to common capacitors. ...

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 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. A motorized bicycle is a bicycle with an attached motor used to assist with pedalling. ...

Practical applications

Solar cars achieve their performance by extreme lightness of weight, and very efficient aerodynamics that force compromises that would not be acceptable in a day-to-day transportation device. Any vehicle built for passenger comfort and meeting contemporary safety standards would be much less aerodynamic and much heavier, thus requiring much more power to achieve highway speeds. Therefore, with current and foreseeable technologies it is unlikely a pure solar car will become commercially available. However, solar cars are essentially electric cars with an inbuilt recharging capability, so some of the engineering knowledge and technology developed in competition solar cars may help the development of battery electric vehicles and even hybrid vehicles. The Venturi Astrolab in 2006 was hailed as the world's first commercial electro-solar hybrid car due to be released in January 2008.[4] In May 2007 a partnership of Canadian companies lead by Hymotion altered a Toyota Prius to use solar cells to generate up to 240 watts of electrical power in full sunshine. This is reported as permitting up to 15 km extra range on a sunny summer day [5] while using only the electric motors. For electric vehicles other than battery powered passenger automobiles, see electric vehicle. ... See: Hybrid Vehicle ... Hybrid Synergy Drive The Toyota Prius is a hybrid electric vehicle developed and manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation, and one of the first such vehicles to be mass-produced and marketed. ...

Similarly, when battery electric vehicles become popular, fitting them with solar cells would extend their range and allow recharging while parked anywhere in the sun. However, with present and near-term engineering considerations, it seems that the more likely place for solar cells will generally be on the roofs of buildings, where they are always exposed to the sky and weight is largely irrelevant, rather than on vehicle roofs, where size is limited. For electric vehicles other than battery powered passenger automobiles, see electric vehicle. ...

One practical application for solar powered vehicles is possibly golf carts, some of which are used relatively little but spend most of their time parked in the sun.

See also

This is a list of solar car teams. ... Race the Sun is a 1996 dramedic movie, mainly starring Halle Berry and James Belushi. ... Antares20E An electric airplane an airplane that runs on electric motors rather than internal combustion engines, with electricity coming from fuel cells or batteries. ... While most boats on the water today are powered by diesel engines, and sail power and gasoline engines are also popular, it is perfectly feasible to power boats by electricity too. ... The South African Solar Challenge is a Alternative Energy Challenge with classes for Hybrids, Bio-fuel, Electric and Solar Powered vehicles. ...


  1. ^ Solar Vehicle Performance, Dr. Eric Slimko, December 1, 1991
  2. ^ The Leading Edge, Tamai, Goro, Robert Bently, Inc., 1999, p. 137
  3. ^ solar drag
  4. ^ The first commercial solar-electric hybrid car
  5. ^ Hymotion modified Prius using solar power

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Solar cars

  Results from FactBites:
Solar cars are not currently a practical form of transportation as they can only operate during the day and can only carry one or two passengers.
Solar cars are fitted with gauges seen in conventional motor cars and the driver's main priority is to keep an eye on these gauges to spot possible problems.
Solar car motors are normally rated at between 2 and 5 hp (1 and 3 kW) and the most common type of motor is a dual-winding DC brushless.
Solar car - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1896 words)
A solar car is an electric vehicle powered by solar energy obtained from solar panels on the surface of the car.
Solar car motors are normally rated at between 2 and 5 hp (1 and 3 kW) and the most common type of motor is a dual-winding DC brushless.
Solar cars have a wide range of suspensions because of varying bodies and chassis.
  More results at FactBites »



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