Structural optimization for a photovoltaic vehicle
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Photovoltaic vehicles are designed to harness solar energy and use it for self-propulsion. In order to collect sufficient energy to propel a passenger, a relatively large photovoltaic array is required. Controlling the loads imparted by the array and the body that supports it, while protecting the passenger and minimizing vehicle weight, presents a unique set of design challenges. Weight considerations and geometric constraints often lead system designers toward unconventional structural solutions. This report details analytical and experimental processes aimed at proving the concept of integrating aluminum space-frame elements with composite panels. Finite element analysis is used to simulate load conditions, and results are compared with empirical test data.