Students built a solar charging station that powers electric vehicles with 300 watts

A team of University of Illinois at Chicago students built a solar-powered charging station to ensure an on-campus food truck makes emissions-free deliveries, according to a press release from the University. university.

The involvement of students in projects inside the university is not something new. However, the UIC students did not just build a prototype or a technology demonstrator. Their solar-powered charging station powers a commercially built electric vehicle. It may not look like a Tesla or a Ford EV, but the vehicle is completely legal and has a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h).

Most importantly, the vehicle is a vital part of the university’s Food Recovery Network (FRN), an initiative that collects leftover food from campus dining halls and delivers it to Chicago’s homeless shelters and kitchens. . clean technique reported that in 2020 the FRN delivered over 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg) of food to shelters across the city. It helped the needy and kept food from ending up in landfills. Now, with a food delivery vehicle that also charges sustainably, the whole operation has become greener.

How was this done?

The plan to set up a solar-powered charging station for the FRN vehicle came from the University’s Office of Planning, Sustainability and Project Management, the press release said. The Office proposed the project to the students and three students from the mechanical engineering department and one from the biomedical engineering department took up the challenge. With the university funding the project, the team focused on designing and sourcing the components for setting up the charging station.

It was fall 2020 and when COVID-19 hit, all work on the project came to a screeching halt. The original design had the charging station to be mounted on a trailer so it could be more mobile. However, the supply chain issues that have affected the automotive sector as a whole during the pandemic have also impacted this project. Even after three months of waiting, the trailer was not delivered.

The solar charging station

The team then switched to a stationary system and when the university facilities reopened, they assembled the charging station in the machine shop.

With a 300 watt solar panel, the team aims to charge the EV completely off-grid. The panels operate to charge a battery during the day, then the EV is charged using the battery at night.

To ensure panel performance is maximized during the day, the panels are aligned with the movement of the sun. But they didn’t stop there. The team has also incorporated 12 settings on the panels so they are angled to remain most efficient each month.

As the electric vehicle makes emissions-free deliveries, the team plans to bring the trailer back from its original design.

About Robert Pierson

Check Also

Massachusetts Set to Boost Its Electric Vehicle Network

Data: SparkCharge; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals Massachusetts could soon get more electric vehicle drivers — …