The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) a unit of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) in Thiruvananthapuram, has demonstrated a working model of a solar hybrid electric car, using indigenously-developed technology.
While a modified Maruti Omni van was used to demonstrate the technology, the inhouse development of technology will pave the way for the development of an environment-friendly passenger vehicle, an Isro release stated.
Major challenges included the design and development of a solar panel to suit the roof top of the car, development of a super-capacitor to meet the high peak current of beyond 100 A level, development of integral gear box to augment the performance of brushless DC (BLDC) motor as also development of control electronics for the battery and solar panel interface and drive electronics for running the motor in a smooth way.
Besides, the internal combustion engine (ICE) based vehicle has to be refitted with the electric motor.
To drive the car, energy was supplied to the vehicle by state-of-the-art high energy density lithium-ion batteries connected across high power density super-capacitors. Battery delivered the sustained energy requirement while super-capacitor supported the peak power demand during high torque conditions. This arrangement of power sharing helps in enhancing the life of power-restricted batteries. At the same time, a high efficiency solar panel fitted on the roof of the car could continue to refill the charge to battery during sunlit period.
In order to convert the electrical energy into mechanical means for driving the wheel, it was integrated with an efficient power conversion module. A brushless type motor was used, which offered improved torque with reduced energy input while being light in weight. Concerted efforts were made to ensure that the associated safety aspects are not compromised while combining various active subsystems of different behaviour for a focused objective.
Isro successfully exploited from developed components, namely, super-capacitor, BLDC motor, solar array and panel, control and drive electronics and integration methodology inside the vehicle.
The Solar Hybrid Electric car was successfully demonstrated through an uphill drive during the last week of March 2017.
Isro is in the process of indigenous development of Li-ion pouch cells / fuel cell along with super-capacitor as well as electric motor in order to further reduce the cost.
Solar and electrical energy based hybrid vehicles provide the most effective and viable long-term solution by using renewable energy sources for mobility. Such a transportation system rely upon the major components, namely, energy system (battery, super-capacitor, solar panel), control electronics for battery charging, drive electronics between energy source and electric motor and power transmission from motor to wheel through gear set.