America runs on gas. It is almost impossible to imagine life without this precious fuel. Virtually every business and individual depends on fuel in one way or another. Without gas our economy would come to a complete stand still, and many of us would be left to our own devices, for things such as food, shelter, and transportation. But what if there was a way to remedy our dependence on fuel. Certainly this wouldn’t be a complete removal of fuel, but what if we could wean ourselves off of being so completely reliant on it? The benefits are obvious, so it really just comes down to pragmatics. First lets tkae a look at the technology itself.
Evolution of Solar Power
Solar power has come along way since it has first started, and we are beginning to see more and more places where solar energy is being used. With the advancements in solar power, solar powered machines are frequently entering the market place. So, the question is posed, could we use solar power to drive a car. Solar cars may sound like an idea of the future but they are making their way into the present. Solar cars trap the light of the sun and convert into electricity that then powers the car’s battery. First, a bit about how solar power works.
What is Solar Power
Solar power uses photovoltaic (PV) cells to produce energy. The cells are grouped together in columns or panels designed to trap the sun’s light. Once the light has been trapped it uses a semiconductor, a device that conducts electricity, to power the panels and can often involve electrical converting technology like magnum inverters, similar to those on Don Rowe. What’s that? A closer look? I though you’d never ask!
Solar Power Engineering
As sunlight hits the columns the semiconductor absorbs the light and energy from the light. Once the light is captured the columns then manipulate the light and harness it using PV cells to force them flow the same general direction. This flow creates kinetic energy, which is then used to make electricity. Once the electricity is produced it can be either tapped into immediately or stored like a battery. However, the semiconductor is naturally shiny and doesn’t absorb sunlight very well. To counter this, designers coated the semiconductor with an antireflective light, which allows it to capture a maximum amount of light.
The Current Market
While you won’t find solar cars in a dealership, the cars could be making their way into the market very soon. People have been building their own solar cars ever since the seventies. Dealerships however, have been toying with the idea of solar cars, and some have even incorporated the technology in minor aspects of their vehicles. Cadillac produces a model in 2008 that had a solar powered audio system and interior lights. Ford has toyed with the idea of solar powered headlights, and Mazda put forth the idea of solar panel on the roof of a car to help fuel the battery.
Ben holds a B.A. in Communications and is well versed in renewable energy. He lives in California and is stoked to be writing professionally.