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Researchers says solar energy extends electric vehicle driving range | Windsor Star

By harnessing the sun’s rays through rooftop panels, Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies founder and CEO Sean Moore says the driving range can be extended an average of 45 per cent further.

“Every second your foot’s not on the accelerator, when that vehicle’s in the sun, it’s charging,” Moore said. “This way, you have a generator … on your roof.

“Obviously if it’s nighttime or if it’s in a garage, you can just plug it in the wall and it recharges that way too.”

Associate professor Narayan Kar led a team of three PhD students, a masters student and a senior undergraduate in studying the vehicle rooftop solar technology. He said months of research and testing — partially funded by a $20,000 federal research grant received almost a year ago — helped them prove the scientific benefits of solar panels and to show the financial benefits.

The University of Windsor Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE) published a report Dec. 11 outlining the team’s findings. They are expected to publish further technical papers next month.

“What’s great about it is it validates the technology,” Moore said. “It really helps us gain traction in the market … all the research validating the extended range and all the different benefits of having a renewable energy generator on the roof of your car.”

Moore’s company focused on esthetic issues of the rooftop panels by using Lexan, a clear plastic material that is lighter in weight than the typical glass panels used for lamination of solar cells, and a thermal process to form the sheets to fit the radius of different vehicles.

“We have developed an app … that (Moore) can take … on his cellphone to his customers and he can demonstrate the benefits of having a solar panel on the rooftop,” Kar said. “If you have a solar panel and it is in the sun most of the time you will see many days of no (electric) charging needed.”

Moore said he’s hoping to launch sales of low-speed electric vehicles — a new Transport Canada classification in North America — with rooftop solar panels early this spring. Low-speed vehicles have an electric drive train, four wheels on the road and they are restricted to a top speed of 50 kilometres.



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