Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept Car
Photograph courtesy Ford Motor Company
Electric cars offer freedom from the gas pump, but they tie drivers to the task of charging up. To truly cut the power cord, it would help if you could carry your generator on board, and the fuel would be free.
That's the allure of the solar car, in many ways the holy grail of clean energy transport. It came one step closer to reality this week with Ford Motor debuting its C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas. (Related Quiz: What You Don't Know About Cars and Fuel)
Ford used the biggest consumer electronics show of the year to showcase not-yet-ready-for-mass-production technology and the possibilities for renewable energy transportation. (See related, "Pictures: Cars That Fired Our Love-Hate Relationship With Fuel.")
The solar plug-in hybrid crossover, based on Ford's C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, has 16 square feet (1.5 square meters) of photovoltaic panels built into the roof.
Even with a full day of blazing sunlight, the eight-kilowatt-capacity panels wouldn't capture enough energy to fully charge the car's lithium-ion battery. So Ford, along with the Georgia Institute of Technology, developed a flat acrylic lens to stand over the car in a canopy that can marshal sunlight from a larger area. The lens would act like a magnifying glass and concentrate sunlight onto the car, boosting solar uptake eightfold. It would take about seven hours of sunlight to fully charge the battery, which could then power the car for an estimated 21 miles (33.8 kilometers) before a gas engine kicks in. (See related, "Pictures: A Rare Look Inside Carmakers' Drive for 55 MPG.")
That means the C-MAX Solar Energi is still tethered to conventional fuel, but integrating solar energy into vehicles poses special challenges. Engineers—both professional and student—have been grappling for years with the issues of capacity, aerodynamics, and energy storage, in their zeal to design and build vehicles that run on the sun. (See related, "Wireless Power May Cut the Cord for Plug-In Devices, Including Cars. ")
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Published January 9, 2014
University of Chile’s Solar Car, Eolian
Photograph by Reuters
At a staging area in one of the driest places on Earth, students from the University of Chile push their car, Eolian, a sleek wedge specially designed to soak up the sun of the Atacama desert. The photo was taken in 2011, the premiere year of the Atacama Solar Challenge, the first international solar race ever hosted in Latin America. (See related, "Pictures: Cars Capture Solar Energy in Chilean Desert.")
The University of Chile students named their car, appropriately enough, after eolian processes, through which winds erode, transport, and deposit materials to shape the Earth's surface-especially in arid environments. The Eolian team placed second in both runnings so far of the Atacama race, in 2011 and 2012, the latter a hard-fought competition traversing 1,000 kilometers (621.3 miles) over four days. The winner both times was team Antakari, from the Universidad de la Serena and Illapel Polytechnic as well as engineers from the Los Pelambres copper mine. The third running of the race is set for this November. (See related Quiz: What You Don't Know About Solar Power.)
Published January 9, 2014
Tesla’s SolarCity Superchargers
Photograph by Car Culture, Corbis
Tesla Motors says you should be able to run your car on solar energy without waiting for engineers to work out the details of integrating photovoltaic panels onto a vehicle rooftop. (See related, "Pictures: Eleven Electric Cars Charge Ahead, Amid Obstacles.")
The company's vision is to install solar canopies above its supercharging stations, which in 30 minutes can provide enough juice for a Tesla Model S premium electric sedan to travel an estimated 170 miles (105.6 kilometers). Best of all, the charge-up is free of charge. (See related, "Range Anxiety: Fact or Fiction?")
Tesla is building a network of supercharging stations to serve Model S owners across much of the United States and parts of Canada by the end of this year. (See related, "In Tesla Motors-NYT Spat, Cold Realities About Electric Cars.")
And the company says it plans eventually to cover all of its supercharger stations with solar panels, with a goal of lowering the cost of electricity and addressing concerns about the carbon emissions associated with plug-in cars that draw energy from fossil-fuel-burning power plants. "We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a statement about the project. But at this point, the supercharge stations—solar or conventional—are not compatible with other EVs on the market. (See related, "Tesla Motors' Success Gives Electric Car Market a Charge.")
Published January 9, 2014
Toyota Prius with Solar Panels
Photograph by Toru Yamanaka, AFP/Getty
The Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid electric-gas car on the market, but it has been available since the 2010 model year with a solar-powered ventilation system as an option. Here, an employee is wiping down the solar panels on the rooftop of a prototype at Fuji Speedway in Oyama, Japan, in 2009.
But drivers who fork over extra money for the solar panels should be aware that they won't provide energy to move the vehicle. Instead the solar roof powers a fan that circulates ambient air through the cabin when the Prius is parked in direct sunlight. "If you want to stay cool, park in the sun," Toyota says on its web site. (See related, "Driving the Limit: Wealthy Nations Maxed Out on Travel?")
Published January 9, 2014
Drexel University’s Green Dragon
Photograph by Harley Soltes, National Geographic
Engineering student and driver Conjee Yeung smiles from behind the cockpit bubble of Drexel University's Green Dragon during technical testing of the team's solar vehicle at Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Houston in May 2011. (See related, "Students Design Super-Efficient Cars in Eco-marathon.")
Solar cars compete against other alternative vehicles as well as cars with internal combustion engine in the annual contest on three continents to design and build the most fuel-efficient vehicle. While the conventional gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles in the race are typically designed to look like rockets, the Drexel students admitted that they had to forgo a sleek silhouette. (See related, "Drexel Students Take On the Solar Car Challenge.") Their aim was to go wide in order to produce as much energy as possible from the solar panels. But they gave the car a contour so there would be a smooth flow of air over the car and a tapered edge. (See related, "Pictures: Building the Perfect Solar Car.")
The Drexel students won the solar car category that year with a result of 90 miles (144 kilometers) per kilowatt-hour. Using the standard that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adopted for the new Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and other electric vehicles, which equates 33.7 kilowatt-hours of energy to one gallon of gasoline, their result was the equivalent of 3,033 miles per gallon (1,290 kilometers per liter).
That's energy efficiency that would really shine, if automakers could only capture the technology for the mass market.
Published January 9, 2014
Wouldn't it be better to devote that solar energy to on-vehicle devices (A/C and heat, radio, lighting) until an appreciable amount of hours on solar-provided energy can be devoted to propelling the vehicle AND the weight of the solar panel is made negligible on the vehicle?
I could easily drive to work and back on one charge, and if my work parking lot also had solar chargers I'd never need gas.
I thought it was a fantastic concept until they it was revealed to me that the car only gets 21 miles from a 7 hour charge before the gas engine kicks in. Not something I would invest in, I would be more likely to buy a solar car that could travel farther, 200 plus miles would be more reasonable. Although this isn't the vehicle for me, it is still reassuring to know that there are companies developing sustainable energy technologies.
Oil CEO's to lose more then their shirts......
Doctors now going to SOLAR ENERGY were the MONEY IS as always. More Money in solar energy then the Sick and Poor. Doctors have now formed CAUSE (Californians Against Utilities Stopping solar Energy) , what took them so long to come on board GOD Bless them for doing so..
Solar Industry to Skyrocket with the help of Solar Shingles.
SOLAR ENERGY SOON WILL POWER ALL OF THE EARTH
ELECTRIC HYBRID VEHICLES & ELECTRIC VEHICLES SOON TO OUT SELL ALL OTHERS Energy has driven the world for over a thousand years Wind, Hydro and Solar are the oldest forms of energy giving power to all smart enough to use it.
In the last 200 years Coal, Oil and Nuclear has given energy to many worldwide and great power and wealth to only a few. At the cost of many lives in coal Mines, Oil Spills, Radiation, Cancer and Polluting the Air and Water on all of the Earth.
Unfortunately for the wicked there is not an unlimited amount of oil on earth. Just the same as the Forest Trees that clean the air and make Oxygen we breath and all living on earth need to Live. As some in denial are not able to recognize or ever see or live with blinders on.
Doctors now going to SOLAR ENERGY were the MONEY IS as always.
Doctors and Drug ceo's have been making millions prescribing drugs to many that live near or by High polluted areas. From dirty energy that hurt breathing our lungs, water we drink and harm our children and all. That we all pay for. When all on earth need is Clean Air and Water, and Clean Cities.
Now common sense would be for all to look for a Clean Fuel Source like Wind, Hydro, Geothermal and Solar. Renewable Energy is eliminating the need for Dirty Energy Worldwide at a record pace. With SOLAR ENERGY Clearly the front runner.
To the fear of some of the richest people on Earth. They to surprisingly are doing
something extraordinary investing in Solar Energy. After years of many of them trying to under mine it.
Fuel that makes energy to ship goods, or make electric for homes and manufacturing. Can transform whole nations into prosperity and wealth or poverty and economic hardships for most all. Just as taxes on taxpayers has done. For over two thousand years. Making slaves of many to the wicked and unjust few. History Lesson Roman Empire, Persian Empire now OIL Empire oh sorry OPEC.
The Freedom to get your own Power from the Wind and Sun, Solar Energy has been there for years. Are Libraries and Schools should have been the first to have gone Solar and Renewable Energy. And why are they not? Churches are all over the Planet. They are going to Solar Energy.
Thank GOD for the Pioneers like John Schaeffer that Started Real Goods The first and Best catalog for Renewable Energy and Dr. Addison Bain one of NASA top Scientist and Scientist Bill Young at the FSEC Florida Solar Energy Center and Monica D. Key Lindbergh for many years wrote to legislators promoting Solar and Renewable Energy and many others.
These Pioneers helped put Wind, Solar And Renewable Energy in the Spotlight for all the World to see. One of The Greatest Scientists ever Albert Einstein Started it with a Dream that the day would come that all the World would use Solar Energy. His many years of work with the law of the "Photoelectric Effect", and showing this to the World won him the Nobel Prize in Physics. For the "Photoelectric Effect"
Free Energy From the SUN in the heavens above.
We still do not teach this to our young.
Very soon Hybrid Vehicles and (EV's) Electric Vehicles will out number the ones that need oil and gas to go. With the ability to recharge them at home and work from the sun.
Tesla Motors with its new Model S electric sedan, will be one of many the World will see. Honda, Nissan, Audi,VW, BMW and Volvo are just some of the Car Companies putting into production Electric Vehicles a EV, and many more are and many are building Electric / Hybrid Vehicles. The DeLorean Motor Company has put into production 2013 a DMC-EV Electric DeLorean, that will have a body and power plant that will last you a life time. Just think you can recharge them at home and work free from the sun Solar Energy.
Now to own a car that will never rust way and runs on the power from the sun that's the one for me. Very soon most all on earth will be able to get energy by recharging from the sun and wind.
Cities that want to be Clean clean-cities.org many of them are putting in recharging stations in their heart of their downtown of their city all over the Planet Earth. Many Thanks mostly to Scientist Bill Young and his team at FSEC for their many years of work at this.. UK now has more Electric charging Stations then gas.
GOD Bless You Professor Takashi Ohira and your team for the good work they are doing. To promote Clean Cities with Clean Transportation that will let some drive all day without having to stop to recharge. As Neil Armstrong would say one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Just one step closer to the World being powered be the Sun Solar Energy. Going Solar
Germany, Denmark, Australia, Sweden, Norway, India, Nepal, Tibet, and Israeli clearly a leader in Solar companies and Renewable Energy is helping many World Wide and a long list of Nations Going Solar. Even Iran with its Archimedes Tower. At its Shiraz Solar Power Plant Iran and all the Oil Nations on Earth know the World is going to SOLAR Energy.
Iceland, Philippines, Kenya.....and more then 50 other Countries.
Wind Energy in use
More then 75 Countries
Albert Einstein's Dream coming true
The Earth Powered By SOLAR ENERGY.
all that Spot Light and use Solar Energy GOD Bless all that have eyes to see and a brain to know that Solar Energy is the way to go.
There is enough Energy coming from our Sun to power all our needs and then some.
The Lord's Little Helper
Paul Felix Schott
I purchased a 2013 C-MAX Ford Hybrid about 8 months ago and we like it
other than the mileage we get is 37 MPG not the 47 stated on the window Sticker. Should have waited until they came out with the Solar.
Its about running completely on electric power for a daily driver as it can run approximately 21 minutes completely on electric.
If Ford has succeeded in getting 8 kilowatts of electricity from 16 square feet of photovoltaic panels, they should drop out of the car business and sell those panels! Even 8 kilowatts translates to just over ten horsepower, and ten extra horsepower isn't that useful for a car.
@Alexander Williams Owned one since last June.
I first put gas in it in September, then again in December. So in six months I bought gas TWICE.
My round trip to work is 10 miles, so I have plenty of charge.
Also, I work from home a lot, so some days I go out early on an errand, come home, plug in and go out again after work fully charged. Also, now that winter is here, I don't run the climate control as often and now I'm getting 27 miles per charge. Two charges per day and I can get 54 on electricity.
Even at 21 miles though, that covers far far more driving than you would expect. Most time in a car is spent sitting at traffic lights.
When you think of 21 miles, you might think, sheesh that's only a gallon of gas, but you can't think of it like that. In practice, it's more like 4 gallons of gas, or about an hour or more of city driving.
At one point I had it up to 160mpg.
@Paul Schott interesting. Thank you Paul. I'm doing a project in class. This was great.
@Paul Schott bravo Paul. Great uplifting piece. I am doing a project in my class on solar energy. I love what you had to say. I will be looking at some of the people you suggested for information. Thank you
@Corey Zeimen You meant miles, not minutes.
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