Wherever it goes, the ÉTS solar vehicle undeniably attracts attention. Whether it's because of its huge solar panel or its futuristic look, it gets much attention from both the public and the media. But how does a solar vehicle work?
To better understand how solar vehicles work, we must first look at the solar cells, the vehicule's only source of energy. On the Eclipse X prototype, no less than 260 solar cells form a 4 meter-square array to convert sunlight into reusable energy. The solar cells ensure a continuous flow of energy into the lithium-ion batteries. Energy that the wheel motor, attached to the driver-side rear wheel, uses to propel the car. Surplus energy is stored in batteries and will be used in less sunny weather. The size of the array is limited by competition regulations. This constraint forces teams to design more compact and aerodynamic vehicles, at the expense of energy input.
What makes the vehicle very interesting is that it can drive indefinitely under optimal sun and speed conditions. In other words, if it is travelling around 85km / h under cloudless skies and direct sunlight, the vehicle can drive from sunrise to sunset without interuption. All the while without emitting any green house gases into the atmosphere.
As for the cabin, the solar car only has one seat. Like a conventional car, it is equipped with a steering wheel and a brake pedal, in addition to being equipped with a sophisticated speed control system.
The following pictograms present some technical features of our prototype, Eclipse 10.
The vehicle's solar array has an efficiency of 24,3%, which means that close to a quarter of the sun's energy reaching the car is converted directly into usable energy.