Copyright (c) 2008 Steven Magill
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.
These days, one can see solar powered vehicles in engineering demonstrations and solar car race events.
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.
How they work
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 design of solar powered vehicles is largely limited by solar batteries that are installed in it. Most cars that run on the sun’s energy are designed to be lightweight. Every component shouldn’t weigh as much as the ones that you would typically find in conventional cars. They do have practically the same basic parts that traditional vehicles have. You will find brakes and accelerators in them. Some even come with cruise control.
With solar powered vehicles, the current challenge is to create a process or a mechanism that is capable of harnessing solar energy efficiently even on places with a relatively smaller surface area such as cars roofs. Solar cells are usually effective on buildings because they are always exposed to the sun’s heat. Cars will warrant more attention on this area to create efficient solar powered vehicles that can be used just like cars that run on oil fuel.