Solar Power

I was disappointed to find out that the average range per charge of the Aptera is 100 miles. The original design which was more complex allowed for a gasoline engine to keep the car on the road even after the battery ran down. I won’t complain about this until I see real world statistics, but I did like the idea of traveling across the country in an Aptera.

Somewhat related to the subject of the all electric Aptera, is the recent announcement that Toshiba has developed a battery that can recharge in about 90 seconds. If you follow the link you will see among other things that Toshiba is going to target the automotive industry to market it to developers of new hybrid and all electric cars. This battery (if placed into mass production) will be a game changer. To my knowledge, Aptera has not announced that they are even looking at these batteries. But what if they did? What if Steve Fambro discovered that he could easily implement them in his current design. Recharging the Aptera in 8 hours with today’s technology is an achievement in and of itself. But what if you could charge the Aptera in about 5 minutes? All the problems of long distance travel start to go away. Early adopters may find it difficult to find an open outlet on the road, but I can see a future where recharging stations will be as plentiful as today’s gas stations. And what about the solar panel on the roof? Could that recharge such a battery array in a way that would allow the car to go further than 100 miles? Could a cluster of battery arrays be arranged in a fashion where the car could run on one battery while the solar panel charged another battery array? If this could be done, it seems reasonable that an automatic switching system could automatically switch to a freshly charged battery when a low voltage is detected. Then the depleted battery could be switched to the charging circuit to charge up again with the solar panel.

Of course, this is all conjecture on my part. What I just described here is akin to a perpetual motion machine which is impossible according to the laws of physics. But then again… We are talking about solar power being combined with a battery that can be recharged in 90 seconds or 5 minutes depending on how you array the things. The power from the panel has to be the equivalent of a 110 volt power outlet… maybe. Maybe 220 volts… Maybe 1.21 Gigawatts. Oh well, I am not on their design team and I am not getting paid to think about this stuff. And if you have to stop every 100 miles for 5 minutes, so what?  I still think if these batteries take off, that our Aptera may just get them in the future.

For quite some time now I have been following the progress of the solar power industry. I just got word this morning that Heliovolt, a company that has made many advances in Thin Film solar collectors, has a new man at the helm that they hope will take the company in a more positive direction. What does this mean? Who cares? I know that I don’t care until they actually start production and I can get my hands on the stuff to wrap my house in. However, it is still important from the perspective that this technology actually exists. Unlike standard solar cells, Heliovolt’s product can be printed on to thin metal or glass.

One application I read about was one where you could print (just like a computer printer) the material on windows to be used for skyscrapers. The idea being that the windows could power the building.  If printed on thin gauge aluminum sheets you could easily nail this stuff to the roof of your house. But why stop there? why not print aluminum siding with this material? That would effectively make the whole outside of your home a solar collector.

In thinking about this for my home, I realized that perhaps this product could be applied to the outside of an automobile. An automobile like say… The Aptera? Rather than having one big solar collector on the top of the car, why not print the skin of the Aptera with this solar collecting material? I think by doing that you would increase the solar collection efficiency quite a bit especially if the sun is at a low angle in the morning or evening hours.

Not being expert on this new material I have to say that I may be wrong about being able to print solar collection material on the body of the of the Aptera so don’t get your hopes up at my, “What if” statements. None the less, it is food for thought.