Solar power the vehicle of the future

В рубриках: Automobile | Автор: admin 08.01.2012

Solar Power – The Vehicle Of The Future

In a world seemingly obsessed with finding renewable energy sources, solar power has become a common feature in day-to-day life. Although the technology was initially released before it was fully tested, and therefore gained a poor reputation for reliability, since the turn of the Millennium it has grown in stature and promise. One can forgive the scientists behind the development for this over-eagerness in releasing what could one day be a primary resource for fuel and power in the modern world, especially as the majority of the kinks are now ironed out.

It is therefore natural that many are considering the possibility of solar powered vehicles. With the non-renewable fossil fuels being consumed by motorists at a rate that the planet will soon no longer be able to supply, the idea of having a car entirely powered by solar powers is an intriguing one.

It is not, however, a particularly new one. Almost since the invention of solar panels, pioneering developers have been trying to find a way to harness the technology for the car. The idea of being able to run a car with no emissions and no consumption of fossil fuels would indeed be arguably the biggest leap in engineering since the Wright brothers, but is it really possible?

The steps are beginning to be made. For example, Toyota – who market the worlds most popular hybrid vehicle, the Prius – are said to be considered installing solar panels on new versions of the Prius. However, the panels will only be used to power the air conditioning and electrical systems. While this is advancement in the general concept, it isn’t the finished article.

In truth, solar powered cars do exist. Powering a vehicle by the force of the sun alone is possible, but the problems arise in the practicalities. Two annual races currently exist for solar powered vehicles only, the World Solar Challenge and North American Solar Challenge. However, many of the competitors are engineering under and post graduates, as well as technologically minded individuals. The notable absence in these races is in the big car manufacturers, the people who genuinely could make solar powered vehicles a reality for all.

The question is then, if a solar powered vehicle is possible, will it ever replace the standard combustion engine? The issue is open for debate, but it would seem unlikely. Toyota may have implemented the concept of solar panels to power electrics and air conditioning, but perhaps only after trying to power the entire vehicle with solar energy and failing.

The main flaw in solar powered vehicles is size. To get the most out of the suns rays, a lot of solar powers are needed, far more than can ever be fit onto an actual car. From the small space available, it is perfectly possible to generate the necessary power from the sun to power the electric engine of a car, but only for very short distances and in sunny conditions. The idea, it would seem, will remain a fun experiment for mechanical students, and the ever popular races will continue. However, under current ideas for solar vehicles, it is unlikely your family hatchback is going to come complete with solar panels any time in the future.

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