Hi Rob, seems to me that is almost impossible that you have saw the IntiKallpa Solar Car in Daas, because in this date it was being repaired in Chile, in the INVENIO SA. facilities. The car lenght is almost 5 yards, and I agree that is an admirable project.
taimoortariq, I sadly agree with your conclusion. I guess what I was objecting to is the possible implication (maybe I'm the only one that heard that implied) that we haven't reached that goal yet because of the technology itself, and that's not true. Rob is right--running a car on solar is currently a joke. Let's hope that condition doesn't last.
GTOlover, you brought up some interesting points, and DN has covered several innovations that attempt to make curved solar cells. I think I'd clarify my statements a little: the technology is not primitive. The market, however, is another story, as I noticed when covering this story about China's solar industry http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=267451 For instance, I noticed something not mentioned in the article (because not germane)--the top tier are largely vertically integrated companies. This is generally more characteristic of manufacturers in the earlier stages of an industry's evolution and growth, at least in electronics and related fields. And I think that's because of the 99% focus on solar panels for (primarily) buildings.
Beam theory is a staple of virtually every engineering education, but it's so seldom that we actually see an innovation in this area. The composite layer beam in Slide 7 is the stuff that PhD theses are built upon.
I think it's terrific the JEC recognizes innovation occurring within the composite industry. Those companies and engineers working with this technology certainly deserve any and all recognition they receive. This is an extremely important field and one that will only grow in importance as time goes by. There are so many applications now possible or made better as a result of R&D within the technology itself. The excellent slide show probably represents the tip of the iceberg.
Ann I agree, Solar panels are certainly not primitive. Also they are really getting better in terms of energy density every year as well, but still we have not yet reached that point where our high energy demands can be met by solar energy. And in the applications where solar panels are satifying the high energy requirements require them to have a very huge surface area, which becomes a challenge considering the cost and space constraints.
What I am saying is that although there is no match to the advancement and advantages of solar energy, still we are not at that position to make this our regular source of energy.
Ann, being an alumnus of University of Minnesota Auroa 2 solar car (back in 1994-95), I can tell you that the PV cells were not primitive (even back then). However, the problem is the cells are flat and the best conversion is when they face the sun. On a moving vehicle this proved to be difficult and a huge compromise. During competition, the cells would provide some energy, but the batteries would run down. You only hoped you could collect enough light at scheduled stops to "re-fill" the battery. Another problem is the temperature. The interior of the car got hot (thus the need for frequent driver changes). The PV cells effeciency was also reduced as the temperature went up. The EE guys came up with some clever ways to try and cool the cells, but it was always a trade off.
In the end, if the cells could be curved or applied to the shape, there might have been more opprotunity to collect light. But the winning cars were the ones that could balance weight of the battery, the size of the PV array, and design an efficent drive (and perhaps a little bit of luck).
I remember seeing a lot of carbon fiber solar cars in the day. But the winning cars were not always the carbon fiber lightweights.
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