Solar-powered cars have recently risen to the forefront of the conversation due to the rising interest in renewable and sustainable energy sources. There are now a number of efforts being made by automakers to develop solar-powered automobiles; this emerging technology may fundamentally alter the course of the automotive industry's future.
Solar vehicles are a type of electric vehicle that generate their own power by converting the energy from the sun into electricity using photovoltaic cells. These vehicles are able to store some of the solar energy they collect in their batteries, which enables them to function normally during the night or when there is no direct sunlight. Solar-powered automobiles have the potential to reduce not just environmental pollution but also noise pollution if they gain widespread adoption.
Solar-powered automobiles do, however, suffer from a number of significant design and technology restrictions. A few of these have something to do with the way things look. For such a vehicle to be viable, it must have the capacity to store several solar panels, but there is only so much room available. Because of this, the vast majority of solar-powered automobiles that have been produced up until this point are designed specifically for competition in solar car races rather than for everyday use.
How Do Solar-Powered Electric Cars Work?
Photons, which are discrete units of light, are used to excite electrons in a solar panel, which results in the production of an electrical current. Solar panels are assembled from a large number of individual components referred to as photovoltaic cells, which are then connected to one another.
In its most basic form, a photovoltaic cell can be conceptualized as a sandwich made of two layers of a semiconducting material such as silicon. To impart a positive or negative electrical charge on each "slice", the silicon is combined with other components, most frequently phosphorus and boron, in a certain ratio. At the point where the two layers meet, this results in the formation of an electric field.
After being dislodged from its bound state by a photon of sunlight, an electron will be expelled from a silicon junction by the force of the electric field. The electrons are collected by metal conductive plates that are attached to the side of the cell and then transferred to wires. At that time, the electrons are able to flow similarly to how any other source of electricity would.
Current advancements in Solar-Powered Electric Cars?
General Motors produced one of the earliest solar-powered cars, which was displayed during a convention in Chicago in the year 1955. The convention was held in Chicago. This solar-powered prototype "vehicle," measuring 15 inches (38 cm) in length and being referred to as the "Sun mobile," was constructed of a small Pooley electric motor and 12 selenium photovoltaic cells.
The Sion, which was manufactured by Sono Motors, is yet another intriguing vehicle that runs on solar power. According to the business, this is the first hybrid solar-electric car that is available for purchase on the market. It has a range of up to 255 kilometers, which is equivalent to up to 160 miles, and it can charge itself using solar energy. It has 248 solar cells built into its body, making it self-sufficient in terms of energy.
In 2019, Toyota built a prototype solar-powered Prius that was capable of producing 180 watts of electrical power per hour and had a range of 3.8 miles (6.1 kilometers) after being charged for a full day. However, later models boasted a power output of 860 watts and a driving range of 27.6 miles (44.5 kilometers) on a single charge. However, the solar cells could only provide a topping-off charge to the battery; the car is still required to be charged at a charging station in order to function properly.
The Dutch company Lightyear has introduced its first solar-powered electric vehicle, which the company claims can be driven for up to seven months without needing to be recharged. The vehicle, which has been given the name "Lightyear 0," is equipped with curved solar panels covering 53.8 square feet across its hood and roof and sells for €250,000 (almost 2 crores).
Lightyear has over 1,000 individual solar cells that, collectively, add between 50 and 70 kilometers of range each day throughout the summer, solar modules are capable of providing the battery of the car with up to 12 kilometers of range each hour of charging. In addition to this, they are protected from harm by being encased in safety glass.
Numerous Benefits Of Solar-Powered Electric Cars:-
The advantage of driving a solar-powered car is that it does not require fuel, and it also has a cheap cost of maintenance. Solar-powered automobiles can travel further on the same battery charge. This will get you from point A to point B faster while also requiring fewer recharge stops along the way. Solar energy is limitless and costless; it will never be depleted.
Solar cars offer the potential to fully scale clean transportation since the load that solar cars put on the grid is much less. From the user's point of view, all you require is a conventional power outlet combined with the sun; there is no need to wait for charging infrastructure, which again makes this a scalable solution.
The power that is potentially able to be generated on a car roof has increased significantly as a result of the continuous improvement of solar cell and solar module technology, which has led to higher efficiency. Therefore, not only a cooling of the passenger cabin could be provided by the solar roof, but even a significant extension of the driving distance could be feasible.
A module technology for box bodies on trucks is also being developed by the company. This technology will allow the box bodies to be integrated into the bodywork without any pieces protruding out.
Challenges Of Solar-Powered Electric Cars:-
The installation of solar panels on a car presents automotive engineers with a significant number of hurdles, despite the enormous potential benefits of doing so. There are three major obstacles to overcome:
Optimizing the use of the energy that is generated. It is necessary to find a solution to the problem of battery charging losses caused by self-consumption or charging situations in which the battery is full but solar power can still be generated.
The reduction in power generation is caused by inclement weather as well as shadowing caused by other vehicles, buildings, bridges, trees, and tunnels. While there is no way to avoid this, prediction models could provide more accurate estimates for yield calculations and charge optimization.
The most significant difficulty from a technological standpoint is the usage of the power that is generated. When there is a great demand for power, the high-voltage drivetrain battery is the best option. On the other hand, this could result in considerable losses during transformation as well as possible safety risks.
The sloping nature of car roofs presents an additional set of difficulties. For example, a strong curvature may result in a considerable irradiance mismatch, which, in turn, may cause a reduction in cell power, which in turn may result in a reduction in the yield of the solar module.
In addition, the module and cell technologies must not only deliver the maximum possible production, but also an aesthetically superior look and exceptional endurance.
The challenge with integrating solar cells into an electric vehicle is to maximize the surface area, making sure you achieve automotive-grade standards for reliability and safety, while still optimizing the total performance.