Our custom solar panels just arrived last week after much planning and preparation. The panels are semi-flexible and should be highly efficient, but their fragility means we can’t do much with them until we have a secure place to mount them for further testing. Consequently, we have begun to design the panel rack which will be attached to the top of the main chassis in the final design.
The design of this structure poses a number of significant challenges. In order to maximize our potential for energy generation, the rack needs to be nearly 5 meters by 1.8 meters. With such a large size it will be difficult to prevent the structure from sagging, something that would compromise both the energy generation potential and aerodynamic profile of our car. To mitigate this concern we are running calculations with different materials of different thicknesses to determine what materials will best balance light weight with adequate stiffness.
We are planning to meet with engineers in the near future to discuss our design and receive feedback on what elements should be changed to better meet our goals. When we are satisfied with the design we will be able to proceed to the next step: construction.