This paper gives an overview of a new concept for using solar thermal energy in vehicles following the concept of Ideal Final Result for overcoming existing mental inertia. The concept is based on very high temperatures reached by concentration of solar energy, Stirling engines, which convert thermal energy into mechanical energy and, finally, energy storage using phase changing materials.
First, a short review of past research is given and the new vehicle structure is described: Solar energy is gathered by Fresnel lens and stored in a thermal tank. Once charged, the tank is placed in the car and connected to a heat exchanger, which transfers thermal energy to the hot side of the Stirling engine. A generator converts the mechanical output of the Stirling engine into electric energy for being used in hybrid vehicles.
This way 100% renewable energy is used, which may be obtained everywhere solar radiation, is available. This concept releases the vehicles from dependency on oil. Vehicles work without contaminating exhausts and make less noise than conventional cars with internal combustion engines. Using a serial hybrid configuration, the Stirling engine can always work on its best operation point and a smaller engine charge the batteries while the car is driven by more potent electric motors.
This technology can be applied to all types of vehicles, from small cars to trucks or trains. First simulations are used to forecast the power of the engine and sizes of the energy storages.