For all the advances in motor technology, cars still look and behave basically as they did 100 years ago. They’re four-wheeled boxes running on an internal combustion engine.
Recent years have seen major advancements, though, in alternatively fuelled vehicles such as hybrid cars or all-electric cars. The world has simultaneously seen big steps forward in solar technology.
So the big question is whether the two will ever be able to come together to give the planet a solely solar-powered car.
The short answer is “probably” – but it will take a while.
There are already solar-powered cars that take part in solar challenges such as the North American Solar Challenge in the U.S. and Canada, and the World Solar Challenge across the Australian outback – whereby teams of budding engineers from universities around the globe build and race solar-powered cars.
Tokai University’s Solar Car “Tokai Challenger”. The winner of 2009 Global Green Challenge. Source: Wikipedia/Solar Car
These are very lightweight vehicles
, which are wide and flat for minimal wind resistance and maximum solar panel allowance. They usually carry only one person, but can reach speeds of 50 mph and cover hundreds of miles, crossing entire continents without using any fuel; not so much low emission cars
as no emission cars!
At the moment, though, the large solar panels and battery packs required to make such cars practical for everyday use mean solar isn’t a practical option. But it’s on is way, gradually, and the technology developed in the engineers’ challenge events is used by major manufacturers.
As battery technology develops and they get lighter, and solar power improves further by means as yet unknown, then it seems we will see a solar powered car – i.e. on which continually recharges a powerful battery in the same way that all-electric cars currently work. Before that happens, it seems likely that we’ll see solar playing an ever-increasing role in recharging the batteries of electric cars as a supplement rather than sole power source.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of technology
have come up with yet another revolutionary discovery. The team of MIT scientists claims that it has devised a new type of solar thermal fuel. The thing that makes this fuel different and better is that it can store 10,000 times more energy than any other existing fuel or system. Once again, nanotechnology has found its application in this fuel in the form of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that have been altered a little by azobenzene. This new material can be used as a substitute for the lithium ion batteries since it possesses the same energy per unit volume. It can be charged by exposing it to the sun and can be used for a long period.
The solar thermal fuels capture the sun’s energy in the chemical bonds between the molecules. This energy can be stored indefinitely forever in the fuel. To better understand the charging and discharging phenomenon, consider this example. Suppose that a normal uncharged fuel molecule is in a ground state A initially. As this molecule absorbs the solar thermal energy, the molecule goes from state A to excited state B. This results in a minor change in the geometry of the molecular structure but no chemical reaction occurs. Such molecules are called “photo-switchable”.
As per the thermodynamics, …
Posted in Eco products, Green energy, Innovation, Solar energy
Tagged chemical bonds, energy, MIT, nanotechnology, nanotube, photo-switchable, Solar energy, solar thermal fuel, sun's energy
Good example to follow.
By Saifur Rahman, Business Editor, Published on GulfNews.com
Prabissh Thomas is an ordinary man, with extra-ordinary talent. But you wouldn’t know until you talk to him for at least an hour — that is the time it took me to realise a bit about him.
Five years ago, he started a business in Dubai under the name of Green Energy LLC with a mere Dh10,000, in a 100 square foot office. It was a one-man show, like most start-ups.
But his company was in a different kind of business — sustainable solar and renewable energy — a field that very few thought had such growth potential in the oil-rich Gulf region.
“Back then it was a totally new area, especially in the Gulf,” Thomas says of the business’ start. “That’s where the potential for growth in green energy products lies.”
Read the whole article HERE