1979 - Volume #3, Issue #1, Page #10[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
World's First Solar-Powered Car
Solar panels, mounted on the roof, collect the sun's energy and convert it to electricity. This electricity charges six-volt batteries which, in turn, run the car's electric motor.
The experimental Solar Surrey was built as part of a solar cell test program at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, a branch of the University of California. The research is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The primary problem with developing such a vehicle is cost of the cells. "Panels on the Surrey cost almost $3,000," Dr. G. A. Armantrout, an engineer who helped develop the car, told FARM SHOW. "There are 22 panels on the car. Each panel contains 44 2-in. dia. silicone solar cells and delivers 16.5 volts at 0.6 amps for a power output of 10 watts.
Top road speed on level ground is 11 mph. Armantrout says fully charged batteries will run the car for about 30 miles. After that, it would require 5 full days for solar energy to fully recharge the batteries.
The experimental car's capacity could be increased with additional panels, and research is continuing on solar cell efficiency. Armantrout expects improved panels to double the current range. The car can carry up to 2 passengers and a 700 lb. load.
At this time, the car isn't available commercially. Department of Energy researchers are exploring ways to increase efficiency of the solar cells.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dr. G. A. Armantrout, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, University of California, Box 808, Livermore, Calif. 94550 (ph 415 422-1100).
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