HELIATEK 2016: Solar Powered Car for the Future is Here
BY YVONNE ARABEL/AUTO REPORTER
THIS car is cost effective, durable and balance on the road. It is a vehicle that offers luxurious comfort. Welcome to the world of Heliatek, a 2016 solar car manufactured by a German solar company called Heliatek.
This company believes that one day, cars will be covered in solar coatings that will enable you to charge up while scooting down the highway or parked in a sunny spot. That’s the big picture. For now, Heliatek is focusing on replacing your sun roof with an organic solar cell window treatment, and the company has just announced a major step forward in the efficiency of its organic solar cells.
Organic solar cells are far less efficient than their silicon cousins, but they are also far less expensive. They are also flexible and transparent (or semi-transparent), so they can be used over a huge range of applications including buildings and cars.
Heliatek’s New Organic Solar Record
The new Heliatek consists of three layers of organic molecules, each of which has been developed in-house by Heliatek. Each layer specializes in converting green, red, or near-infrared light for a total range of 450 to 950 nm, which accounts for its relatively high efficiency.
The substrate or bottom layer is flexible plastic, and the whole thing can be put together using conventional, high volume vacuum deposition and roll-to-roll technology, which accounts for its low cost.
This new solar cell is called “multi-junction” because it uses more than one material. Here’s how such a cell looks with two layers:
When we first caught up with Heliatek, its main ambition was to transform window glass and other building elements into ‘built-in-solar power generators’, so the skip over to power-generating sun roofs isn’t that far of a reach.
For starters, Heliatek is putting out feelers for solar sun roof manufacturing partners. The idea would be to increase and stabilize interior comfort without drawing excess electricity from the battery. In effect it would act as a range extender for electric vehicles as well as a gas-saver for gas mobiles or hybrids. The solar-equipped sun roof would also enable you to operate electronic equipment while parked, without sacrificing battery range (or having to idle your car, in the case of gas mobiles).
Heliatek is also exploring applications for the trucking industry, as a means of shaving power consumption during peak use periods.