Their is very little (non that I could find) data available on homemade solar thermal cars. For this reason I am building several test units and conducting many tests during the design process. I do not want to build the full scale car and then see that I made a simple mistake that I could have caught in testing.
As of March 2014 I am in the middle of testing. I have completed many smaller model tests and I am currently working on bigger test units to test full scale systems. The final test step is to test one out of the 3 mirrors and if all goes well use this hardware for the final solar thermal car.
First the Current Tests are being done with two test units.
The 4x2ft test unit will test most system in full scale. The optics and many other systems are the same in this unit, its just that the mirror is only 1/16th the length and therefore 1/16th the power of the full scale solar thermal car. We will use this unit to try many different system configurations in order to maximize efficiency. This is also the first test unit where we can use it's results to calculate the final power output of the solar thermal car.
The Electric Bicycle, Electric Drive Test Unit will be used to test the electric drive system for the solar thermal car. Only a small part of the battery bank will be used and a smaller motor but the motor speed control will be the full scale unit.
The Future Tests will be done using the first full scale mirror from the solar thermal car. This mirror will be 8 by 6 feet. It will first be tested in the One Mirror Stationary Unit and will then be tested on the trailer (see One Mirror Trailer Test Unit). This test unit will test the entire system in full scale. When testing is complete 2 more mirrors will be made to complete the solar thermal car. If no major mirror redesign is required the test mirror will be used for the solar thermal car.
The Past Tests involved many small test units in order to shape the preliminary design for the solar thermal car.
Using the 3.5 feet wide mirror vertical test unit a stale air test was conducted and heated oil to 199C.
A 1/6th scale model by length was used to successfully test the sun tracking circuit that will be used for the full scale car.
Early tests where done with a closed pipe and steam pressure was produced from sunlight.
A mirror test unit is used to compare the power of two mirror types to help with mirror selection.
Tests were done with Thermocouples to ensure they would work well in this system.
Some of the earliest tests involved boiling water in the vertical test unit and calculating the power of this solar thermal system.