Non-Polluting, Low-Cost Cars
The past decade has seen a drastic rise in the popularity of renewable energy sources, especially solar energy. The technology that directly transforms the sun’s rays into electricity is evidently one of the most commonly used alternative energies in the transportation markets.
An idea of inventing a car, which would be silent and low-maintenance, would not pollute with harmful emissions and would not require costly fuel expenditures has been the dream of many engineers for a long period of time.
Much like solar-powered houses, solar cars harness their energy from the sun, transforming it into electricity. That electricity then powers the battery that runs the car’s motor. There are also types of solar cars, where the solar power is directed straight to an electric motor. Solar rays are captured through photovoltaic cells (PVC). PVC’s are the parts in solar panels that convert the sun’s energy to electricity. They are made up of semiconductors, which are generally made of silicon and soak up the light. The sunshine’s energy then releases electrons in the semiconductors, generating a flow of electrons. The flow creates the electricity that powers the battery or the accustomed motor in solar cars.
Since the research into solar energy is ongoing and always in the stage of development, the car designers are challenged in making the solar cars look like normal cars. In the early days solar cars looked more like flying saucers or spaceships rather than earth-bound vehicles. In near future, it is expected that solar system can be adjusted to standard looking cars that we’re all used to.
In 2013, a group of 21 students from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands designed the first ever family-sized road car that drives on the sun. While the majority of solar vehicles have been designed for racing, the solar-powered car named Stella is the first car made for road travel. A large solar panel is situated on top of the wedge-shaped car’s roof, which costs around £2,600 to produce, and which provides power to the vehicle’s lithium ion battery.
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