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Hydro Burning Sunny Cars
Fast enough for freeway driving, more efficient than your average hair dryer...These sleek formula sun race cars are powered by that burning ball of bright light in the sky. Let the sunshine in, it's the age of the solar race car.
What makes 'em go? Solar panels, made up of solar cells on the carsí surface soak up the solar rays. When sunlight hits these solar cells, electrons in the cell energize. Electric connectors in the cell capture the electrons and convert them into electricity.
This collected electricity, or energy, then fuels the car's batteries or motor. The battery, usually of the silver-zinc or lead-acid variety, stores energy, i.e. it recharges the battery. When the car is running, solar electricity directly fuels the motor, saving the battery for a rainy day.
Solar-powered cars require no manual shifting; gear changing is done electronically in the motor. So with a battery life of 200 highway miles, and speeds up to 70 miles per hour, push the pedal to the metal and we're on our way.
Image Courtesy of Team Prisum, Iowa State University.