This mathematical model of a Model Solar Car is intended to be used by students as an aid to designing model solar cars. It allows students to vary characteristics of a proposed car and see what probable effect this has on the performance.
NOTE: The accuracy achieved depends on many things but particularly important is the accuracy of the coefficients used for air drag and rolling resistance (which need to be determined by the students experimentally) and the power output versus RPM data for the proposed motor.
A power curve obtained from Dynamometer testing using a solar panel or a power supply with similar characteristics to a solar panel is essential for accuracy. Use of a battery or power supply without similar voltage & current characteristics to a solar panel will yield inaccurate results.
The model uses only basic mathematics and Newtonian Mechanics so students should be able to understand and modify it to suit their individual requirements. It is laid out on a standard EXCEL spread sheet. Remember this is only a simple model of a very complex system, only the main forces have been considered and simplifying assumptions have been made to keep the programme manageable.
However it has given better than 95% correlation to the performance of the 3 cars we have tested. The results should prove to be very useful particularly when the simulation is used to determine what effect a change is likely to have, say car weight, streamlining, motor (type, power output or torque / RPM characteristics), gear ratio, or sun level changes.