1991-08-01

Design of Curved Solar Arrays for Solar-Powered Electric Vehicles 911636

Students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology have designed, fabricated and efficiently integrated a flat solar array in Rose-Hulman's Solar Phantom solar-powered electric vehicle. The choice of a fixed, flat array was influenced by the simplicity and the cost of manufacturing and the number and cost of photovoltaic cells rather than just the energy collecting ability of the array itself. There are three basic types of solar arrays used for solar-powered electric vehicles: curved arrays, flat arrays, and tracking arrays. Our objective is to present a comparison of the three array types based on the power and size constraints imposed by the solar-powered electric vehicle race rules. Although in selecting the type of array for a solar-powered electric vehicle there are concerns other than the energy collecting capability, such as the vehicle aerodynamics, we consider the type of study we have conducted as a necessary first step in understanding the trade-offs with different array designs. A primer for a transcontinental-class solar-powered electric vehicle solar array design is also presented.

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