This project describes a car transformed as a rover photovoltaïc bench which is dedicated to test different technologies of solar panels in order to improve their efficiency and find solutions against aging.
The mobile solar lab has been conceived from the assessment of ECEs energy and environment teacher Jean Jose Wanegue in partnership with the National Institute of Solar Energy (INES). As the main interest of the INES is to study the aging of photovoltaic panels, the goal of this project is to create a mobile installation consisting of two solar panels with different encapsulation technologies to then study their deterioration when exposed throughout a period of time, in an extreme environment. Ideally, at the end of this project, the created installation will be tested throughout the 6000km 4L Trophy race in the Moroccan dessert.
The overall layout of the project consists in two solar panels installed in the roof of a car, an assembly of sensor to obtain pertinent data, an interface to monitor the incoming data and a medical cooler that is fed by the energy debited from the photovoltaic panels. Each solar panel has 14 silicium polycrystalline cells to produce 8 Watts. Both panels are connected in series to produce a total of 16 Watts and each one has a different encapsulation method. One panel is encapsulated with ethylene-acetate vinyl and the other is encapsulated with Apolhya. In order to have a source that receives the energy debited from the panels, we have installed to the system a medical cooler, which can potentially become the subject of a future project. Since the energy coming from the panels is not a continuous source and the cooler needs to be continuously running, a battery has been dimensioned and installed between the panels and the cooler. Also, in order to preserve the battery and to prevent any reverse current that could damage the panels, a regulator has been placed between the panels and the battery. In order to evaluate what parameters have an influence in the deterioration of the panels, a data acquisition chain has been designed and it’s composed by the following group of sensors: tension, current, exterior temperature, solar cell temperature, radiance captor, anemometer (for wind speed) and GPS. Each sensor has been studied and adapted in order to connect them with the processing card entry pins. For some sensors whose voltage is superior to the maximum admitted by the processing card, a voltage regulating circuit was designed. The processing card chosen for the data treatment was a Beaglebone Black. This choice was based on the fact that this card, by having a wide range of entry pins (analogic and digital), is adaptable to the different sensors in our system. Also, we found this card to be the most robust and cost friendly in the market. In order to monitor the incoming data, we have created an android application where the user can daily synchronize the information captured by the sensors. In this application the user can see a chart with the incoming data and with the help of filters, they can personalize the chart in order to see pertinent information. Also, with this application, there is the possibility of drawing an assortment of charts.