Researchers at the Odisha University of Technology and Research in India have achieved a significant breakthrough by developing an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered model for direct current (DC) electric motors fueled by photovoltaic arrays. These innovative motors operate without the need for grid-based charging, offering a sustainable and independent power solution. The applications of such solar-powered electric motors span from home appliances to industrial operations, and even electric vehicles, as reported by IEEE Spectrum.

Advancing Clean Energy Adoption Solar-powered electric motors present an opportunity to transition electrical devices to cleaner energy sources while reducing dependency on the grid. Typically, this setup requires a battery to store excess energy generated by solar cells, ensuring power availability during periods of limited sunlight. Traditional DC motors have exhibited energy efficiencies of up to 80 percent in real-world applications. However, through the integration of AI-optimized solar arrays, the Indian researchers managed to achieve efficiency levels of up to 88 percent. Furthermore, the team enhanced efficiency by introducing a regenerative braking system. This innovation allows the motor’s battery to recharge using energy recovered during braking.

Optimizing Solar Cell Output To maximize the electrical power output of solar cells, researchers face challenges related to factors such as irradiation and temperature. Solar cells inherently operate below their maximum power point due to varying conditions. To address this, researcher Bismit Mohanty and his team developed a MATLAB model featuring a neural network. The neural network was trained to determine solar cell resistance that yields maximum power points, utilizing a vast dataset of temperature and irradiance measurements. While the neural network’s exact criteria remain complex, this approach demonstrated tangible improvements in solar cell output.

From Concept to Reality The researchers have currently formulated a computer model, with plans to transition to a physical prototype. The implications of this innovation extend to electric vehicles (EVs) that require no physical plugging. Notably, companies like Lightyear are already advancing solar-powered vehicle production. Continued technological advancements may pave the way for EVs that harness solar power while maintaining performance standards.

Applications Beyond EVs Solar-powered electric motors possess versatile applications, ranging from household appliances like refrigerators and fans to heavy-duty industrial operations. These motors hold the potential to transform various sectors, providing sustainable energy solutions that reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The Evolution of Drive Technology Modern drive technology is witnessing significant advancements, led by brushless DC motors (BLDC Motors). These motors have gained popularity across diverse industries due to their efficiency. The proposed study envisions an intelligent hybrid system, coupling a BLDC motor powered by a solar photovoltaic (SPV) array with an AI-backed approach for battery management. This system aims to harness maximum power from the solar panel, even in varying irradiance conditions. A bidirectional charging control, facilitated by a buck-boost DC-DC converter, enables automated power transfer for the battery. The motor’s speed control employs a voltage source inverter (VSI), triggered by electrical commutation signals, while regenerative braking ensures power recovery for future use. Performance analysis of the PV array, battery, and BLDC motor is conducted within the MATLAB/Simulink platform, underscoring the practical viability of this innovative solution.

By Impact Lab