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Can Solar Energy be a Practical Alternative Fuel for Automobiles?

written by: Ashwin Satyanarayana•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 9/16/2008

In an energy crisis like ours, any fuel will do. Well, no really. It can't do if it has problems in production, distribution, safety and consumption. But then, can Solar energy make it to the elite group of alternative fuels on a practical basis? Let's see if this can be a possibility.

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    Alternative energy is slowly gaining the importance it deserves. Be it solar energy, wind energy or bio- diesel fuel. The high rising prices of fuel and depleting oil reserves have made it mandatory for us to look out for alternatives to run our automobiles. But how good an option is solar energy to run our automobiles?

    For one you would be able to drive out only during the day. During night, you would have to resort to your regular automobile or take a healthier option of walking! Jokes apart, we would have to work towards storing solar energy so that it can be used during the night.

    A car that runs on solar fuel would be powered by the energy of the sun. It charges a battery for use when the weather is cloudy. If a car is designed to put all of its energy toward driving and keeps nothing in reserve, then it will stop completely in a cloudy weather. Also, if too much energy is diverted to the battery, the engine will run very slowly.

    A solar panel would work only when it receives consistent and adequate solar power. Also solar panels require large area for installation, for it to achieve a good level of efficiency and constant supply of solar energy.

    I cannot imagine a car with a huge solar panel on top. Not to mention that it would definitely look like an automobile of the future era, but it would also add to the weight of the vehicle. Once the vehicle becomes heavy, it would need all the more power to run.

    solar prius ( Courtesy 

    Also because of the massive heat produced by the solar system, an effective cooling system is required which should have the capacity of cooling the engine from the heat produced by the conversion of solar energy into fuel.

    Not just this, but the entire format of the conventional automobile engine would have to undergo a radical change to accommodate solar energy as a source of fuel.

    Gasoline used as a fuel to run the vehicle is just one of the properties that it performs. It also acts as an effective lubricant to prevent fiction and corrosion. It also prevents dirt and debris from collecting around the engine and acts as an effective coolant as well.

    Solar power at the moment is capable of running the automobile, but for the automobile to function effectively, alternatives have to be found for the other properties that are performed by gasoline.

    Solar powered cars are very much still in the infancy stage. It still has a long way to go to be effectively used as a fuel for running automobiles. Solar energy would be the most eco-friendly option without having to fear depletion of the resource. Also it is low on maintenance and capable of running as an independent system on its own. solar-powered-car ( courtesy 

    Until the storage of solar energy is devised, the best alternative is to use is as a hybrid along with other alternative eco-friendly fuel. Solar energy being the most abundantly found and the most promising alternative fuel does have to overcome a few challenges before it is used as an alternative fuel.

    [ Img Courtesy : and ]