Solar Car

Topics: Photovoltaics, Solar cell, Electric vehicle Pages: 15 (4767 words) Published: March 13, 2013

A solar car is a vehicle, which is powered by sun’s energy. A solar car is a light weight, low power vehicle designed and built with a single purpose in mind – racing. They have limited seating (usually one, sometimes two people), they have very little cargo capacity, and they can only be driven during the day. It does, however, offer an excellent opportunity to develop future technologies that can be applied to practical applications. [pic]

Figure 1: Energy Flow Diagram of a Solar Car
The main component of a solar car is its solar array, consisting of photovoltaic cells, which collect the energy from the sun and converts it into

usable electrical energy. The energy is passed either to the battery for storage, or to the motor to run the car, though a device called power tracker, which convert it into the required voltage. The decision on whether to transfer the power to the motor or battery is made by a small onboard computer called the motor controller. It is responsible for sending the electricity smoothly to the motor when the accelerator is depressed, controlling the torque that goes to the motor such that the car maintains the desired speed. Some cars also use a process called regenerative braking, which allows some of the kinetic energy stored in the vehicle’s translating mass to be stored in the battery when the car is slowing down. A solar car is made up of many components that have been integrated together so that they work as a single system. For the ease of explanation it has been broken down into five primary systems: • Driver Controls & Mechanical Systems

• Electrical System
• Drive Train
• Solar Array
• Body and Chassis


Solar cars do have some of the standard features found in conventional cars, such as turn signals (front & rear), brake lights, accelerator, rear view mirrors, fresh air ventilation, and usually cruise control. The drivers and passengers are protected safety harnesses and helmets. Drivers and passengers can look forward to uncomfortable seats, cramped positioning, and high cockpit temperatures as these cars have very few amenities for the driver. 2.1 REAR VISION:

Mirrors mounted to a car's exterior greatly increase aerodynamic drag; therefore, an out-of-the–box thinking is required to find a solution. SUNRUNNER, a solar car developed by the University of Michigan in 1995, utilized a fibre optic cable connecting an eyepiece in the driver's area to a lens located in an aerodynamic fin mounted on top of the canopy. MAIZE & BLUE, a later model developed by the University, on the other hand, chose an electronic system consisting of a miniature camera installed in the car's trailing edge and a pocket television in the driver's area. Some cars also have externally mounted mirrors of mirrors within a bubble canopy. 2.2 VENTILATION:

High temperatures are obviously bad for the driver (and passenger), but they are also bad for electrical and electronic components as high temperatures will generally reduce the efficiency and shorten the life of solar cells, batteries, motors, motor controllers and other electronic equipment. [pic]

Figure 2: The comfortable interior temperature and air flow rate as a function of outside temperature

Something like 10 kilograms of air would typically have to be provided every minute to approach passenger car comfort levels. Obviously, that's seldom feasible in a solar car due to the drag that it might impose on the vehicle, if such cooling flows are not also required by electrical, electronic and mechanical components of the vehicle. Vehicle designers usually use the same airflow several times over as it passes through the vehicle; for example cooling driver, electronics, electrics and motor sequentially. Placing a sizeable air inlet at the forward stagnation point of the...
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