Automobile maker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd has received a patent for its multimodal solar power system, which reduces the electric load demand on vehicle battery, and supports the operation of an air-conditioner. This innovation will help increase the life of vehicle batteries and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Documents show that solar panels will be fixed atop vehicle roofs to act as supplementary power source for electrical load demand without impacting the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
A sensor will help its control unit identify various modes, such as the running mode, parked mode and night mode and act accordingly. Vehicle type will not be restrictive as it works with all types — internal combustion, hybrid or electric vehicle — and is designed to operate both during day and night.
The solar panel, chosen on the basis of vehicle requirements, charges the primary battery during the running mode to reduce the load on the alternator, the power generator part which usually charges the battery and supplies additional power for the electrical system in the vehicle.
When the vehicle is in parked mode, it charges the secondary battery for the night mode operation of the vehicle. When the batteries are fully charged, the system powers the cooling or heating accessories like the Air Conditioner in the vehicle.
"The solar panel is integrated onto the vehicle roof in such way that it is an integral part of the vehicle roof. Making the solar module a part of the roof is required to ensure that it does not hurt the aerodynamics of the vehicle," it says.
Night mode is an advanced feature of the system in which there is secondary battery in the vehicle to cater to the electrical demands of the vehicle at night. The solar power assist system charges the secondary battery during the day, to be used at night. This ensures that the alternator load on the engine is reduced also during at night.
The solar panels keep the battery charged at all times. This, in turn, reduces the alternator load on the engine and saves part of the power needed to run the alternator and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions.
At night, the vehicle uses the secondary battery charged during the day. Hence, there is lower greenhouse emission even at nights. By ventilating the vehicle parked in hot sun, the cabin temperature is considerably reduced. This reduces the extra pumping required to be done by the AC compressor at the time of starting the vehicle and helps bring an early steady-state cabin temperature. Hence, the extra power required by the AC compressor and the engine is saved and emission is reduced.
The company informed the Patent Office that it has not filed any application for patent outside India in respect of the invention. The concept and application of utilising the solar power to charge any type of battery and utilising the power for different modes of the vehicle is not obvious.
The company, which has its electric car brands Mahindra e2O and eVerito, cargo van eSupro and Mahindra Treo autorikshaw, and eAlfa Mini, earlier developed the Sun2Car technology for directly charging its electric vehicles with solar energy according to reports.