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Building an electric solar car?

Reluctantly

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#1
Has anyone done this?

I'd like to take the shell of a small car and put an efficient electric motor in it and then line the body of the car with solar panels. I can't find any good resources for doing this however. I did find a website where they sell some electric conversion kits for select cars, but it looks like you'd have to design the motor mounts and they mention nothing about solar panels.

Ideally, I'd want to line the trunk, roof, and hood of the car with a solar array and it would be good if I could somehow embed it into the body, as opposed to something dinky like this



I'm thinking around a 200 to 300hp motor would be good. And if possible, a 2kwh solar array on the car body. I'm kind of at a loss on how to embed a solar array into the roof of the car. I guess the trunk and hood could be removed and modified, but the roof would have to be removed?

I was also thinking a diesel generator could be added and removed in the engine bay, depending on far you wanted to go. So if say you wanted to take a 1000 mile trip somewhere, you could recharge the batteries with the generator as you drive and not have to worry about stopping somewhere and charging batteries...
 

Reluctantly

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#2
On second thought, I don't think a generator would be a good idea for long trips. It would have to put out too much power, but maybe something like this would be good.

https://www.wired.com/2012/08/hybrid-conversion/

I know this is doable, but for some reason the idea never came to fruition...would be perfect for front wheel drive vehicles to increase gas mileage in stop and go traffic. But I do wonder if the inductive drag created by the motor is a problem when the gas engine overpowers it...but if there is a clutch system built into the drive, then it could be engaged and disengaged when that happens.
 

Cognisant

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#3
You want something much lighter, solar energy is cheap but it's hard to get a lot of it quickly so any setup is going to be much more useful if you're using the minimal amount of energy to get around and a full sized car is very heavy, really you want something more like a modified bicycle.

https://www.worldsolarchallenge.org/


Having it electrically driven means you'll need to have a lot of batteries to store up enough power for a worthwhile amount of usage and I would advise against that because it can be expensive and dangerous especially if you haven't done much electrical stuff before.

Instead I suggest a pneumatically driven setup with pneumatic pistons and if you're keen on this let me know so we have the "valves talk", there's several advantages to doing it this way. Your setup is very light, air tanks don't degrade like batteries if you look after them, it will be cheaper than an electric setup (depending upon whether you want carbon fiber HPA tanks or not) and if something malfunctions you should be able to easily and relatively safely fix the issue and believe me fixing SOMETHING with be an almost daily occurrence.

You can have solar panels and a 12-24v air compressor (many gas stations have compressed air you can use for free) or use pedal power or wind power or any number of energy sources because if you have enough leverage (use belts rather than gears, much cheaper) anything that can turn a shaft can run a small compressor.

Just don't expect to have a powerful vehicle or one that you can use all the time, although in that regard if you have an air tank at home prefilled to a higher pressure than your vehicle's using you'll be able to re-pressurize its tank much faster than you can recharge a large battery pack.
 

Reluctantly

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#4
huh, hadn't thought of compressed air. But that won't go very far, will it? It would be kind of annoying to have to stop every 5 miles or so.

I'm not really afraid of the electrical work. I know there will be large amp loads on everything. It just needs to be engineered right, so that the heat dissipated doesn't create problems.

I was thinking something aerodynamic like the picture you posted, but maybe not that unpractical. It would have to be light and I think a top speed of 85mph is reasonable to keep up with traffic on highways in the US. I think a tandem vehicle would be perfect for commuting to work a lot and the solar panels could soak up some nice sun when it's parked for 8+ hours of work.

What kind of range would a compressed air car get?
 

Cognisant

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#5
Hybrid vehicles are very efficient, if you want a hybrid car just buy one, it'll be cheaper nicer and more effective than anything you build yourself, attach a solar panel to it if you want but the benefits will be minuscule.

If it's a matter of cost a pneumatically assisted bicycle will let you ride a couple miles to work and back without getting overly sweaty, it won't be difficult to fix/maintain and the upfront cost will be relatively low.

If you want to custom build a 100% electric car to drive to work everyday at highway speeds, well it's an excellent idea but if it was even remotely possible people would be doing it already. The picture I posted is of a solar powered race car and it's a glorified bicycle (err tricycle) with a very aerodynamic body, it can't keep up with highway speeds, it's not designed to go up hills or stop/start a lot in traffic.

Sorry to shit on your dreams, it is an excellent idea.
 

Cognisant

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#6
What kind of range would a compressed air car get?
NITRA pneumatic air cylinder, non-repairable, 3/4in bore, 12in stroke, double acting, rear pivot mount.
$35.50
Extend force at 100 psi = 40.0 lb
Retract force at 100 psi = 35.1 lb

Okay a wee bit excessive but that's good, if it's too much we can just adjust the regulator or add another in line. So the back end of this piston is attached to your (modified) rear tire shaft or somewhere else suitably immobile and the extending/retracting end is attached to the (modified) crank somehow. This way if you stop pedaling or turn the air supply off the bike doesn't stop or pump air back into the tank, which wouldn't happen because there's a lot more pressure in there.

So now if the stroke is twelve inches and the bore is 0.75 inches then each extension and retraction of the piston will displace (0.75x12=9) 9 cubic inches of air, to be clear I hate imperial but it's a bitch to find pneumatic components in metric.

Aluminum 48cu 3000 psi HPA Tank

Moving on a 48 cubic inch tank pressurized to 3000psi will give your piston 314.666 strokes at 50psi (3000/50=60, 48x60=2880, 2880/9=320, 48/9=5.333, 320-5.333=314.666) so the diameter of your rear tire multiplied by 314.666 is how far a single 48cu 3000 psi HPA Tank will take you, assuming 50psi is enough to propel you but if you pedal a bit at the start it merely needs to maintain your speed which is a lot easier than overcoming inertia, indeed this isn't accounting for inertia at all so once you get up to a decent speed you may have to turn the pressure down to stop accelerating and then you'll go significantly further.

In summary, despite all the math I still have no idea :D
 

Reluctantly

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#7
Well...huh. I mean the compressed gas idea is pretty cool. I just need to travel about 50 miles at highway speeds and wanted an electric car. But you're right, it wouldn't be powered 100% by solar, at least not when you're moving. But really that's fine too because it will sit somewhere for long periods of time. I was thinking more about how to get it charging enough power to travel 50 miles back and forth from work, and sitting for about 6 hours of sunlight after getting there. Once back, it'll get about another 6 hours of sunlight. And then for potential longer trips, just put an efficient small generator to supply power?

I don't know. This will be a lot of work from scratch, since I'm not a mechanical engineer and it will take some time to get the frame right (plus cost of a milling machine, welding machine, and certifications to get good at welding to feel confident putting a frame together). So I might just take an old small car and put in a big electric motor and charge it at home with a windmill or solar array. That's what most people do, isn't it?

Would be nice to have a nuclear generator too. But I guess that's illegal...
I guess some people use thermal generators too, where they dig under the ground and use the constant heat source to power their thermal generators, but I guess it's not efficient and really expensive? Would be cool to have that one day for home, maybe instead of solar (which doesn't work well everywhere) or wind (which has costly mechanical parts).
 

Cognisant

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#8
This is a 200W (Watts) solar panel, it's 158cm tall, 80.8cm wide and weighs 21kg.
I'm 6ft something and 186cm tall, this panel comes up to my chest.

Now it may say 200W but that is its peak output, the amount of energy you're getting on a clear day when the sun is at its zenith and this solar panel is pointing straight at it. If there's clouds in the sky you'll get less energy, if the panel is dirty you'll get less energy, if the panel isn't pointing directly at the sun you'll get less energy, as the sun approaches the horizon you'll get less energy.

Lets say you have five of these solar panels set up as it's hard to imagine getting more than that on the roof of a car and lets say on average they produce a consistent 100W of power, so a consistent 500W for six hours. Of course you'll want to store this energy in a battery and while charging your battery bank you'll lose maybe 10% of your energy to heat, then when the time comes to run your motors you'll lose another 20%, so you've gone from 3000Wh (Watt Hours) to 2700Wh to 2160Wh.

The point I've been building up to is that you'll need that 2160Wh to get you home and the more your vehicle weighs the more powerful the motors will need to be and the faster they'll drain your battery, using less powerful motors will make the problem worse because the load hasn't changed you're just forcing smaller motors to do more work which they will do less efficiently.

If you're using four 500W hub motors you'll drain your battery in about an hour, if you're using two 200W hub motors you'll get about 5.4 hours, WEIGHT IS EVERYTHING when it comes to vehicle efficiency and performance.

This will be a lot of work from scratch, since I'm not a mechanical engineer and it will take some time to get the frame right (plus cost of a milling machine, welding machine, and certifications to get good at welding to feel confident putting a frame together).
Aluminum square tubing, a drill, a cut-off saw (not a chop saw, that's for cutting wood), lots of nuts'n'bolts and that's all you really need, just remember a frame should be comprised of triangles not squares.
 

Reluctantly

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#9
I"ve been thinking about it and you're right and it's kind of disappointing. I'm going to put this on hold for a bit.

But I was thinking about Earth Batteries and using the natural polarity that is inherent in nature as a way to gain almost free energy to power whatever and apparently Tesla already came up with that, but for some reason the project was dropped. His Tesla Towers sound like they had a lot of promise, not to mention wireless electricity would be awesome (but I know we don't use it for the lower efficiency over wires).

Anyway, it led me to read about him and how the CIA took all of his research papers when he died. So apparently he was working on an idea for anti-gravity or really electromagnetic propulsion by using the inherent magnetic forces in all matter, like how an electric motor works. I read about how he thought that matter was the ether of space, but in motion, something that I kind of thought of as well. And I was discussing this with someone and they told me about how matter can be modeled as a rotating body of smaller rotating bodies that are interlocked like a set of gears, which explains how a magnetic field and an electric field induce different polarities, depending on each one's orientation; they are each in angular motion with each other, so magnetism is simply an alignment (or oppositional disalignment) of particles rotating and moving in a complementary (or opposing) manner. And it kind of hit me, NASA's EM drive is just that. It puts opposing RF into a vacuum chamber, effectively causing the matter in each circuit to oppose one another (opposite spin) and it pushes out on the diagnol portion of the thruster against the ether of space (which is literally everything).

Then I read some weird stuff where supposedly he was visited by aliens that gave him ideas for the technology. I'd consider it kind of crazy, but I've read reports of military officers and soldiers having seen UFOs that appear to hover and disappear. There was a Navy officer that saw a ship shoot out of the ice in Antarctica and immediately disappear into the sky. Or the case of UFOs disarming nuclear missiles (https://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-s...fo-meets-missiles-at-malmstrom-air-force-base), which happened at more than one missile installation. There is even a report of Kelly Johnson (who worked on stealth fighters for Lockheed) being inspired by the shape of a UFO to make the SR-71 Blackbird before anyone even knew about how to design stealth technology. Apparently, he saw a UFO that had a similar aerodynamic shape to the Blackbird he later developed and this UFO was undetectable (for its size) by radar that was trying to ping it. People that were there even verify it.

Well,,,that might sound kind of nuts, but anyway, now I'm obsessed with the idea of an EM thruster. I kind of want to make one or learn more about it...I really believe it works. And I do think UFOs use this kind of thrust to move through and warp space for quick travel. Maybe a Star Trek like existence isn't too far away.
 

gps

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#10
Rather than me re-inventing the metaphorical wheel I'll link to a related thread I participated in over in INTPc a few years back.

I've got an ENTP buddy who has retrofitted a few cars and a truck to use electric motors.
He also drives a Tesla model S and has solar panels to (re)charge his electric vehicles.
I'll send him an email to this thread as bait by to see if he'll bite.
 
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