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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Pedaling to solar-powered energy

Solar Trike 32

Four engineering and technology seniors, Baldemar Elizondo, Saul Delgado, Chad Chamberlain and Elias Tejada, are designing a solar-powered tricycle to enhance sustainability and increase efficiency. | Courtesy of Team Solar Panel

A group of four engineering and technology students going by the name “Team Solar Pedal” are designing and building a solar-powered tricycle in hopes of proving that alternative energy sources can help enhance sustainability.

Team Solar Pedal is comprised of engineering and technology seniors Baldemar Elizondo, Saul Delgado, Chad Chamberlain and Elias Tejada.

“We plan on having the tricycle powered by solar panels, which will store energy into a battery, which will then deliver the current to our hub motor in the front wheel of the tricycle,” Elizondo said. “Ideally, we want the tricycle to run mostly on the motor. However, it will still have pedals, in case you want to pedal or (if you) run out of battery.”

Team Solar Pedal chose solar power as their alternative energy source. This involves photovoltaic cells converting solar power energy into usable electric current.

The team chose to design, manufacture and present a solar-powered bike that would be able to charge itself via solar panels mounted on the roof of the bike. The project’s goal is to demonstrate that solar power can be used as an effective means of powering a small vehicle.

“Although it is still only 20 to 23 percent, solar panel efficiency has increased in recent years, and some researchers project that they will soon increase efficiency by another 50 percent,” Elizondo said. “Solar energy has most often been associated with powering our homes, but transportation has become an interesting area of application for alternative energy.”

Electric vehicles, such as cars, trucks, golf carts and bicycles, have become popular. They may differ in size and power requirements, but they all depend on power stored in the batteries.

Electric golf carts that run on energy from solar panels but still depend heavily on conventional electricity are currently available.

Computer information systems junior Jessica Gomez said she supports Team Solar Pedal’s efforts to use alternative energy sources.

“Anything that will minimize the use of non-natural resources, the better. Go green,” Gomez said.

Business junior John Tran, who plans to use solar panel rooftops in the future, initially did not understand the concept of the solar-powered tricycle, but upon further understanding, Tran hopes to see more projects like Team Solar Pedal’s.

Because the tricycle is also run on a motor, Tran assumes it may be similar to a moped.

“It’s quite innovative. I have great respect for these guys for all their hard work, research and dedication. I’m a big believer in solar panels as an alternative source of energy, so I’m excited to see how the tricycles turn out,” Tran said. “I might even try to own one in the future.”

Elizondo said although his team has its ups and downs, he has faith that its finished product will turn out successfully. He hopes to display the advantages of alternative energy sources with the help of the solar-powered tricycle.

“I have really enjoyed working on this project, because I firmly believe in the future, alternative energy will be our leading source of power.”

“After completing this project, our team hopes to demonstrate how alternative sources of energy are effective and reliable,” Elizondo said.

“Currently, we are in the design process of our project, and next semester we will build the tricycle. We have hit a few bumps in the road, but we firmly believe our end product will be great.”

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