Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Solar Powered Car


Think back in time before automobiles came into the picture, one notable fact that you would observe would be the total lack of pollution, noise pollution, unhealthy emissions from the cars and no gasoline. It’s not that people didn’t travel, they did – but what they used was horsepower.
Now let’s think into the future, some basic similarities again, automobiles are in the picture but without the pollution, noise pollution etc. And again no gasoline! You would wonder how that is possible: Cars but no Gasoline? What would they run on? Well how about sunlight!
Solar power is something that is going to come up in a big way. There are many research projects about harnessing the sun’s energy and utilizing it for the betterment of mankind. So there might just be a future where transportation would not require any gasoline, it would be low cost and environmental friendly.
Work is already in progress to make this dream a reality. A team of fourth-year engineering students along with their professor, in Beruit, has been successful in building the first solar-powered vehicle in the Arab region. The American University of Beirut issued a statement in this regard. The vehicle has been aptly named Apollo’s Chariot. Apollo being the Greek God of the Sun as mentioned in mythology. This solar-powered vehicle is made entirely of steel and fiberglass and measures five-and-a-half meters in length and two meters in width. It’s a single seater and weighs about 700 kilograms, almost half the weight of an average sedan.
The Team of Elie Maalouf, Amin Kanafani, Ahamed Hammoud and Rawad al-Jurdi under the guidance of Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Daniel Asmar worked unceasingly for nine months to give shape to the “Chariot”.
This futuristic-looking vehicle with an aerodynamic design smoothly glides over the road with a total lack of noise and pollution. Eli Maalouf demonstrated the workings of the “Chariot” on Campus and impressed everyone with its effortless maneuvering. “Apollo’s Chariot “during the demo, moved forward, backward, along a curb and then up a small hill without any hitch.
Professor Daniel Amin in praise of this creation said that, “It looks like a rocket but moves like a swan,” “We actually built a car that runs on a new kind of energy. It’s almost like magic!”
Ellie said that the longest trip that he has ever made with the Chariot till now was, 50 meters and that he hopes that ” in the near future, I will be able to drive an improved version of this car, everyday ““ to university, to work, to go out with my friends.”
Professor Asmar purports that these solar-powered vehicles are important for research purposes for the time being and are yet still years from becoming available commercially. It would cost around a million dollars at present to build one that could be safely driven on streets.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Asmar. “This is a dream come true for me that would not have been “possible without our sponsors.”
To build Apollo’s Chariot a sum of $ 25,000, was raised through several local and foreign sponsors like Power Tech, a Lebanese co., Voluntariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo (VIS), A volunteer Italian association for development, Italian Cooperation, Byblos Bank, Bank of Beirut and Arab Countries (BAAC), Bridgestone tires and the AUB Department of Mechanical Engineering to name a few.
The car converts solar energy into 1000 watts of power with the help of 36 small and 8 large photovoltaic cells. The car includes components like cells and batteries, for capturing and storing solar energy, and a DC (direct current) motor for converting energy from the batteries into a uniform source of energy. A maximum power point tracker device is also used to maximize the amount of power delivered from the cells.
A 3,000- kilometer race by solar electric cars is held in Australia with the purpose of promoting research on solar energy. It is known as The World Solar Challenge and was launched in 1987. The next race is to be held in 2009. The team aims to keep on improving Apollo’s Chariot so that they are able to represent Lebanon and AUB at the Next World Solar Challenge

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