High performance lightweight solar arrays for electric vehicle applications
The work reported here describes in detail the design, materials, analysis, and construction of a high quality and lightweight solar array for electric vehicle applications. The solar array consists of two sub-arrays built with Sunpower Corp. Gen III Maxeon solar cells. Each sub-array is optimized with a number of surface-mounted bypass diodes and Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTDs) embedded in the encapsulation. The diodes prevent power interruption during partial shading while the RTDs monitor the temperature of the sub-arrays. The main objective of the array is to power the electric vehicle, while monitoring its performance through the cells' temperature and output power. For optimal performance, the array cells were matched, the equipment and procedures were developed to accurately measure the characteristics of individual solar cells. The materials used in the modules lamination were deliberately lightweight, which is a primary requirement in a solar electric vehicle. The maximum power obtained from the two sub-arrays was 396 W and 406 W, under full sunlight. The total array area is 4 m² and its approximate total weight is 4.8 Kg.