September 23, 2023

Late final week, Sweden’s Scania revealed a world-first hybrid semi-truck lined in photo voltaic panels. Due to its self-produced vitality, the distinctive prototype has the potential to scale back each operational prices and CO2 emissions of heavy transport. 

The hybrid truck’s trailer is roofed in 100 sq. metres of photo voltaic panels which might be plugged into {an electrical} system carried on board. It is being deployed in a analysis challenge to look at how a lot photo voltaic vitality such a configuration can generate, and the way a lot it’s attainable to decrease CO2 emissions by using the connected photovoltaic panels.

Because it swooshes silently down the Scandinavian countryside roads, it appears like one thing of a transplant from a not-so-distant future. However, solar-powered vans and… Sweden? 

“If you can also make it work right here with solar energy in Sweden, you can also make it work anyplace,” said Eric Falkgrim, challenge supervisor for the corporate’s solar-powered truck improvement — a reality to which anybody who has ever lived by November in Sweden can attest. Falkgrim added that if the know-how is viable within the Nordics, then that will affirm the widespread validity of the challenge. 

Academia and trade collaboration

Impressed by the progress made in lithium-ion battery tech, a couple of years again the corporate’s analysis and innovation division requested itself if photo voltaic panel know-how might additionally develop each extra environment friendly and are available down in value sufficient for a self-catering photovoltaic truck to make sense.

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Following an preliminary pre-study concluded in 2019 to find out feasibility, Scania acquired funding from the Swedish state innovation company Vinnova. It then launched a full-scale challenge in January 2021, with the environment friendly and lightweight photo voltaic cells developed by Uppsala College. 

“That is an thrilling challenge the place academia and trade collectively attempt to lower the local weather affect from truck transports. The outcomes from this distinctive truck will probably be very fascinating,” said Erik Johansson, challenge supervisor and Professor of bodily chemistry.

Photo voltaic tech on the transfer

The plug-in hybrid truck/tractor has all of the “common programs” — together with 100 kWh vitality storage. In the meantime, the trailer has an extra vitality storage capability of 200kWh, functioning as a “energy financial institution” charged by the photo voltaic panels. However naturally, dressing a trailer in photovoltaics comes with an entire particular set of engineering challenges. 

“You may have to remember that photo voltaic cells should not made to be shifting round city in a car. They’re designed to take a seat stationary on prime of a home for 20 or 30 years. We’ve needed to handle security challenges in placing photo voltaic panels on a car,” Falkgrim added. 

Nevertheless, he additionally famous that it was nonetheless a analysis challenge, and would enable for the opportunity of technical snags needing to be fastened alongside the best way. 

 “It’s pretty concerned from a technical standpoint, however we don’t have that stress of it being a full-scale challenge the place we’re producing one thing that will probably be offered globally to a whole bunch and hundreds of consumers. It’s a analysis challenge that’s about seeing if the answer is smart, and to date we imagine it does.” 

To listen to extra about what the expertise has been like for Scania engineers engaged on the challenge, and see extra photos of the truck rolling previous purple little homes and fields, you may take a look at the video under: