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Solar Cars: The Concept, Possibilities and Hindrances: Part-1

written by: Haresh Khemani•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 9/15/2008

What if I were to tell the fuel for your car can be obtained for free and in as much quantity as you want! Obviously you will laugh it off and won't believe. But this is what the solar cars, using solar energy as the fuel promise. Lets know more about the possibilities and hindrances of this concept.

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    The Concept of Solar Cars

    The cars running on the solar energy are called as solar cars. It is interesting and amazing to know that the cars can run on freely and abundantly available renewable energy source the solar energy. The escalating fuel prices, slow economy, and high rates of inflation project a doom picture for our future. In these times the hopes of alternative fuel like solar energy is ray of hope for the bright future ahead.

    The photovoltaic cells are used to convert solar energy directly to the electrical energy. They are made up of silicon slices connected to each other by wires. A number of layers of silicon slices joined together are called photovoltaic arrays that absorb the solar energy and convert it into usable electrical energy. The larger the number of silicon layers in the photovoltaic arrays more is the electricity produced by them. Photovoltaic cells are being used in number of applications like domestic and business houses lights, street lights, pumps etc.

    In solar cars it is the photovoltaic cells that produce electrical energy from solar energy. The photovoltaic cells are mounted on the top of the car and electrical energy produced by them is stored in the battery. The battery runs the motor which in turn runs the wheels of the vehicle and drives it.

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    Methods of using Solar Energy as a Fuel in Cars

    At present lots of research is being carried out to run the cars, and other vehicles like motorcycles on the solar energy by using photovoltaic cells. There are two options for using solar energy, an important form of the renewable energy source, as the fuel to run the cars. These are given below:

    1) Cars running entirely on the solar energy using photovoltaic cars: These cars are similar to the electrical vehicles. In electrical vehicles the battery is used to run the motor, which is connected to the wheels of the vehicle. As the motor runs the vehicle also runs. In the electrical vehicles (EVs) the battery has to be charged from the electrical point on regular basis, thus it consumes electricity and one has to pay for these electricity bills.

    In the vehicles running on the solar energy, the arrays of photovoltaic cells are mounted usually on the top. These cells convert solar energy directly into the electrical energy, which charges the battery installed in the car. Thus instead of the charging the battery from external electric point, in solar cars the battery is charged by the solar energy, which is collected by the photovoltaic cells. The solar energy is freely available so we don’t have to bear the cost of the fuel.

    The electrical vehicle running entirely on the solar energy has number of advantages including being noiseless, and pollution free.

    >>>Read Part-2 of this article

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    Solar Car (Source: Wikipedia)

    Solar Car