Fiat has teamed up with SolarPrint, an Irish energy technology company, in the development of solar panels that can be installed on the roof of vehicles as a way to produce alternative sources of energy by converting light to power. This new "smart roof" will utilize low-cost photo voltaic (PV) (or solar) cells and lithium batteries that will in turn be used to power on-board devices in cars.
SolarPrint has started working with the Centro Richerche Fiat (CRF), which is the innovation and research arm of Fiat, as a vital part of a consortium collaborating on the EUR3 million project.
Named as the "SMARTOP" initiative, this project includes scientists from University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and Imperial College in the UK. The SMARTOP project aims to develop a technology that will revolutionize the auto industry by converting light into a form of power.
Dr Mazhar Bari, chief executive officer, SolarPrint, said that soon, cars will be partially powered by PV technologies, which will have considerable knock-on benefits for consumers, manufacturers and society as a whole. Vito Lambertini, new scouting materials and nanomaterials, CRF, is also enthusiastic about the SMARTOP project.
He said that the smart sun roofs that will be installed in cars offer several advantages, in terms of "energy that is both generated and saved, the lower cost of the component materials, and the overall comfort and benefits for the driver."
In addition, the energy generated and stored using this smart roofs concept can cut the CO2 emissions and related fuel consumption by up to 15%. [via siliconrepublic]