The sun. The Solar system’s greatest source of energy provides the earth with more heat and light for a day than the human population can consume in a year. Harnessing the sun as an alternative source of energy has become an exciting and promising venture.
So far, solar energy has been used to run appliances, heat water, cool buildings, generate electricity and yes – power solar cars.
Solar powered cars are obviously fueled by the sun – but how does this technology work? The car is built carrying hundreds of photovoltaic cells that absorb and convert sunlight into energy. Instead of using a petrol tank like a normal car does, solar vehicles carry a solar-powered battery system. To optimize speed and minimize energy expenditure, solar cars are often ingeniously designed according to the laws of physics and aerodynamics. With a zany appearance and operating at zero emissions and no need for fossil fuel, solar-powered cars are just the thing that the environment and our wallets need.
Both the government and automobile manufacturers have recognized the need to develop the technology of solar cars. Thus, government agencies usually sponsor solar car races to promote the development of energy alternatives to fossil fuel. These races are usually joined in by university students, who show off their technological and engineering skills by building their very own solar cars.
But making a car with the race in mind is a whole different story. Here, application of the good old laws of science and a hefty dose of common sense is essential. Solar car racing teams have to design their cars for maximum performance on the day of the race for whatever weather conditions.
Solar race cars take on a battery, which the car can rely on in the absence of a hot sunny day. Batteries are necessary as they store the sun’s energy, thus making it possible to run the car when the sun is hidden. Without batteries, solar cars would be rendered useless as they will completely stop at night or cloudy days. However, the builders have to be careful (and this is where science and expertise come in), as redirecting too much of solar energy to the battery will mean the engine doesn’t run fast enough to propel the car.
This technology is starting to show great promise and I’m quite confident to say, solar-powered cars will definitely drive our future. So fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.