This summer Swiss visionary Louis Palmer
and his friendly team made several stops in Southern California on their global whirlwind tour with their spectacular Solartaxi Electric Vehicle
. One of the stops was at AeroVironment
in Simi Valley.
The Solartaxi is a realization of one of Louis' childhood dreams : to drive a zero emissions solar powered electric car around the world. He wants to show people that solutions already exist to resolve the Global Warming crisis. Click here to read Solartaxi's mission statement
Towards this end, the Solartaxi is a promotional vehicle and not one that is suggested we all be driving. The Q-Cell solar panels
mounted on the trailer towed behind the Solartaxi provide 50% of the electricity required for the journey. They're mainly along for the ride to demonstrate that photovoltaic solar technology is real and available today. They also help to ensure the vehicle can keep traveling even in remote sections of the world should they fail to find a plug for recharging. The other 50% of the electricity required for the journey is obtained by plugging into the electrical grid en route. In Switzerland, the Solartaxi team has created a stationary solar array to feed green power into the (global) electrical grid. Solartaxi just extracts that greenly produced electrical energy from the grid while touring the world
. We should all support the installation of rooftop mounted PV solar to power our homes and our near-future plug-in electric vehicles.
Solartaxi has two Swiss made 14kwhr Zebra batteries
which are a molten-salt type battery
that has an operating temperature window of 270-350degC (518-662degF). The battery is insulated in a thermos-style package to minimize heat loss and has a life of about 1000 charging cycles. Zebra batteries have an energy density of around 90Whr/kg. Solartaxi has one of these Zebra batteries in the car portion and a second is located along the axle of the photovoltaic solar panel trailer. That gives a cummulative energy storage capacity of 28kWhrs.
The Solartaxi electric drive motor powering the single rear wheel is rated at a peak of 13kW. The Q-Cells PV solar modules produce upwards of 600 watts. To recharge the batteries solely from the rear trailer would take about 4 days.
After admiring and discussing the Solartaxi for almost an hour, Solartaxi Tour Director Louis Palmer gave a fantastic 40 minute PowerPoint presentation on his mission and adventures. As of this summer's SoCal visit, Louis had traveled two thirds of his journey around the world. The presentation was followed by an enthusiastic EV technology discussion along with real test drives of the Solartaxi - viewable in the video below.