Solar powered cars have been said to be the future of renewable transportation and that they are supposed to be economically efficient and environmentally friendly. Though it may sound like pure science fiction, there is development happening around world that is bringing that notion into reality. As I researched thoroughly to create my conceptual model for solar cars, I asked myself this: Are solar vehicles even practical for the U.S.? Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth with a whopping 173,000 terawatts of solar energy striking the Earth’s atmosphere continuously. Solar technology was first utilized by the space industry in the 1960s to provide power aboard spacecrafts. Solar powered cars have been in development for years. Although they are not on the market right now, they are being used for racing competitions by universities and colleges and for research studies to determine their distance. Solar vehicles are powered by dark surface solar panels that absorb sunlight. These panels consist of solar cells (aka photovoltaic cells (PVCs)) which allows sunlight to convert to electricity. PVCs are mainly made up of a semiconductor called silicon and alloys of indium, gallium and nitrogen. When sunlight hits these panels, its energy motivates electrons within the semiconductors that creates a stream of electrons. Once that light is converted to electricity, it converts power to a battery that runs through the car’s motor. Silicon is what makes harnessing sunlight possible. In 1954, the first ever modern silicon solar cell was built by Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. On the same year, The New York Times declared this groundbreaking creation as, “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams -- the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.”...
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