Posts Tagged ‘solar energy’

Combining The 5 Best Solar Technologies

Monday, October 27th, 2008

I know there is a lot of red tape and patents that would make this impossible in the near future, but what if we could combine the 5 most effective solar technologies in the world and create a super solar collector that would be able to take care of our energy needs? I know it kinda sounds like Captain Planet, but I don’t think its too far out of reach. A few criteria have been taken into consideration. The super solar cell must be efficient, drive the cost down, and solve the problem of solar power at night. I know its a long shot, but here are my five picks.

1. In terms of the shape of the cell, I think Solyndra has it right in making cylindrical solar cells. They don’t have to be mounted at an angle. They can be mounted flat which saves installation costs and makes them more durable read more »

Beam Energy From Space

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Oil prices are indeed coming down, but that is no reason to stop looking into renewable sources of energy. Oil will only last a finite amount, and the plunging oil prices over the last few months is only temporary. Our demand for energy is not one that will stagnate for long. We consume more oil than anyone on the planet and the demand will get larger over time.

There are problems with the current renewable energy sources we have now. Wind energy requires large plots of land and are noisy. Geothermal and tidal is specific only to location and cannot be used in a wide scope. Nuclear doesn’t pollute the air, but we have to deal with the radioactive waste. Solar can only be used read more »

SkyTrough (TM) The World’s Cheapest Utility-Scale Solar Power System

Monday, October 13th, 2008

These days it seems like solar power is moving leaps and bounds toward a truly viable and scalable alternative energy source. Black silicon, solar tubes, and fusing nanotechnology with solar present the potential for solar energy to be immense. The solar company SkyFuel has come up with a way to lower the cost of parabolic troughs by 35% by using a new silvered-polymer film instead of the traditional heavy glass mirrors. This makes the concentrators less expensive and more durable since the film will be backed by sheets of aluminum and will not shatter.

SkyFuel estimates that it can deliver electricity below the concentrating solar power benchmark of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour at a profit. That’s the price of other solar thermal technologies, but still more than a natural gas or coal power plant.

The company expects to have a small installation of its SkyFuel system–between 2 to 10 megawatts in size–in the next year and larger installations after the initial pilots.

The company is already working on the second generation product that will include storage. It probably won’t be commercially available for at least a few years, Huntington said. Rather than heat up oil or hot water, the parabolic troughs will heat up tubes of molten salt. That salt can be stored to make electricity even after the sun goes down.

via CNET

Black Silicon Could Revolutionize Solar Industry

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Physicist, Eric Mazur, and his graduate students were financed by the Army Research Organization to explore catalytic reactions on metallic surfaces. In the 90′s, Mazur was afraid that the research money would soon stop so he wrote in a new direction into his research proposal, and to this day doesn’t know why he did it. It wasn’t until more recently that he asked a graduate student to pick up on the research. The graduate student then shined a powerful laser on a silicon wafer’s surface and then on a hunch exposed the wafer to sulfur hexafluoride, a gas used by the semiconductor industry to make etchings for circuits.

The result was a black silicon wafer, but under an electron microscope, the surface was riddled with “spikes.” Much like many accidental discoveries, the researchers read more »

Solar Tubes More Efficient

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

It would seem counter intuitive that cylinder shaped solar panels would be more efficient and cost effective than flat. After all, anything with a curve is usually more expensive to make, and the loss of perpendicular surface area to the sun should make these solar tubes less efficient…right?

Well according to Solyndra, the company who makes these cylindrical solar cells, many factors are not taken into consideration. “With a cylinder, we are collecting light from all angles, even collecting diffuse light,” says CEO Chris Gronet, who founded the solar cylinder company in 2005 based on an idea he had late one night while pondering less expensive ways to install photovoltaic panels. Because the arrays do not have to be angled or anchored into the roof, he adds, “we have half the installation cost and can install in one third the time.”

These cells essentially look like dark flourescent light bulbs and have many advantages over their flat counterparts.

Solyndra is now churning out copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cells, wrapped into a cylindrical shape and encased in glass. This design not only seals out moisture but allows the glass to act as a sunlight concentrator, funneling photons onto the thin film, read more »

Energy Producing Paint

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

A Partnership between UK university researchers and the steel industry means that buildings covered in steel sheets could be producing electricity in 3 short years. The new technology is a photovoltaic paint that is simply applied in four coats during the manufacturing process. Four paste like layers consist of an undercoat, a layer of dye-sensitized solar cells, a layer of electrolyte or titanium dioxide, and a protective coating.

“If the solar cell paint can be successfully brought to the market, it could spell big changes when it comes to the future production of electricity,” said Steve Fisher, spokesperson of the Corus Group, the Anglo-Dutch steel manufacturing group that is believed to be pouring tens of millions of euros into the venture.

The paste is applied to steel sheets when they are passed through the rollers during the manufacturing process. The four layers of the solar cell system are built up one after the other in rapid succession.

Light hits the dye-sensitized solar cells, exciting the molecules that act as a light absorber or sensitizer. The excited molecules release an electron into the nanocrystalline titanium dioxide layer, which acts as an electron collector and a circuit. The electrons finally move back into the dye, attracted by positively charged iodide particles in a liquid electrolyte. read more »