With the word “alternative energy source” being on everyone’s lips since the last decade, solar power seems to be the safest bet when it comes to cars. Although, never having been mass produced, the technology of solar powered vehicles has been long known to the world since the days of Hans Tholstrup and Larry Perkins when they successfully drove from Perth to Sydney in a solar car way back in 1983. For the last half century, the ideas pertaining to solar vehicles has resided mostly in articles, pictures and the drawing boards of students and researchers. Yet, undoubtedly there have been remarkable demonstrations of the enormous potential of solar powered cars throughout the years. Narrowing down the list, here are the 10 most innovative and exceptional designs of solar power vehicles developed by students.
The Bethany was a solar powered vehicle developed by a group of students from Cambridge University. With a meager weight of 170kg, the Bethany was powered by the highly efficient silicon solar panels lining the body of the vehicle. Coupled with a regenerative braking system which recharges engines when applied, the Bethany characterized energy efficiency, cruising at 60 mph utilizing only as much energy as a hair dryer. Unfortunately, the price tag of Â£200,000 spelled commercial inviability.
2. TMT Palestineâs first solar electric car
The TMT was a single passenger vehicle which was designed by students of the Palestine Polytechnic University. The vehicle contains photovoltaic panels on the most part of the space behind the driver’s seat. It contains a battery which can support the vehicle for 100 minutes and the car itself can reach a speed of up to 30 mph. The 12 batteries providing a total of 24V can be recharged at home or with the solar panels.
3. Ford Model-T replica
The Ford Model T replica was actually built on a challenge from the Reduce The Juice Foundation and furthermore on a budget of $4300 and with parts donated by local companies. The students from Waterloo Collegiate Institute developed their solar powered vehicle based on the Ford Model T and built it out of wood. In addition to including a “suicide switch” to kill the engine if the driver falls off, it can reach speeds of up to 50 kph. The solar panels for this model is located on the roof.
4. SolarWorld No.1
The SolarWorld No.1 is a racer developed by a group of 50 students and professors from he University of Applied Sciences, Bochum. The vehicle developed over a period of 2 years, incorporates an electric motor which is fitted into the front wheel rim and can deliver an efficiency of 94%. The solar panels dot the body of the car covering a total area of 6 square meters. The car has an average speed of 74 kph and features a structure similar to mass produced commercial vehicles.
5. Sunswift IVy
The brainchild of students from University of New Wales, the Sunswift IVy is a solar powered vehicle which features a CSIRO 3 phase DC 1800W electric motor. Powering the motor is a lithium-ion polymer battery pack connected to an array of solar cells producing an impressive 1200W. It might also be mentioned as a side note that the Sunswift IVy holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest solar powered car.
6. Siemens Sunchaser
The Siemens Sunchaser was developed by students from the American University of Sharjah, Australia in collaboration with Siemens. The solar panels power 30 Kokam 40Ah lithium ion batteries and are coupled with brush less DC motors. Divided into 4 sub arrays, the solar cells powering the Sunchaser are 740 Sanyo HIT 220 watts and BP 35U 50W. The car can reach up to a speed of 80 kph.
7. Solar Car C4
The Solar Car C4 has been developed by students from the Department of Traffic Engineering, Da Nang University of Technology in Vietnam. The basic design of the C4 is such that it features solar panels mounted on the roof the vehicle which powers the batteries, enabling it to reach a modest speed of 30 kph and costs about $3400. Solar power is also not the only fuel that can power the C4 as it can use liquefied natural gas as well.
8. Infinium Solar Car
The Infinium solar car, developed by students from the University of Michigan is a solar powered vehicle which sports a sleek body composed of lightweight materials. Lining the entire sleek framework of the vehicle are solar panels which power the vehicle. The Infinium can reach a speed of up to 70kph and weighs approximately 600 pounds.
9. Advay II
Developed by a group of 16 students from the Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology, Delhi University in India, the Advay II is a modified version of a former solar powered vehicle the Advay I. The Advay II has had its weight reduced to 380 kg by restructuring the outer body with a carbon fiber and polyurethane foam mixture and the interior by aluminum. The aerodynamic design of the vehicle improves upon its predecessor by reducing resistance to air. The Advay II was developed over a period of one year.
10. Apollo’s Chariot
Named after the Greek God of the sun, Apollo’s Chariot is a solar powered vehicle developed by a team of students at the American University of Beirut. The solar panels lining the 18 feet long and 6 feet wide body of the vehicle produces electricity of about 1000 watts and is stored in batteries. The 1500 pound steel and fiber glass one seater vehicle is said to quietly glide on the roads and reach speeds up to 40 mph. The car was developed over a period of 9 months and it took $25000 of corporate sponsorships to be built.