The rumours of a solar powered car has created a lot of buzz lately, particularly in relation to whispers of Toyota creating such a vehicle – which turned out to be just whispers.
A company that is currently developing such a car, with the added element of wind power, is RORMaxx Automotive. Dubbed Formula AE, you won’t see the vehicle in any showroom soon as it will just be a working, full-scale racecar prototype. However, it will incorporate some interesting new technology and concepts that the auto industry may benefit from.
The engine to be used in the Formula AE will be an advanced current induction motor capable of a 212kw power output. The vehicle is expect to be able to accelerate from 0 to100 kilometers per hour in under four seconds, with a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour. Energy storage will be in the form of lightweight Lithium Phosphate batteries and ultra capacitors.
The Formual AE will be covered with flexible, thin film solar cells which are expected to extend the car’s range by 15-40%, but the most interesting part of the vehicle is its wind power aspect. Energy lost under the friction of air will be recovered through 4 intakes and directed into turbines containing brushless synchronous alternators. The power generated will then be stored in ultra-capacitors.
When substantial power is instantly demanded, such as in rapid acceleration, the Formula AE’s inverter will switch the vehicle from battery power to the ultra-capacitors which will be able to deliver the energy necessary in such situations more effectively. Ultra capacitors also have the advantage of being much faster to recharge than conventional battery technology.
RORMaxx Automotive says the Formula AE prototype could be produced by August of this year.
For people who are dreaming of a fully solar powered family car, they will likely be disappointed as solar technology really isn’t able to generate the amount of power needed from such a small surface area such as the body of a family vehicle to make this practical for medium and long distance driving. However, it’s already possible to use a grid connected solar power system installed at home to act as a charging station for electric vehicles. While most cars would be recharged at night, the energy created by the solar power system through the day can be “reclaimed” from the grid for overnight charging.