Posts Tagged ‘solar’

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 »

New Material Able To Absorb Full Light Spectrum

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Ohio State University Chemists have produced a breakthrough material that can absorb the full spectrum of sunlight and make the electrons generated easier to capture.

The material is an amalgamation of electrically conductive plastic and metals like molybdenum and titanium. It is the first such material able to capture the full solar spectrum. The solar panels in use today are only able to harness a small portion of the energy in sunlight.

The material is still in its infancy and is far from commercialization, but it is another example of the vast possibilities of capturing and using the sun’s energy. Even with the economic downturn, and the lack of extension of credit in many sectors, the arena of green energy continues to raise funding and attract solid investments.

If this new material can be coupled with cutting edge battery technology, it has the potential to change the way we produce and consume energy. Individual homes could be rigged with their own energy systems and virtually wipe out the need for grid power. With the potential of this technology coupled with nanotechnology in batteries the viability of an oil free nation is within reach in the next decade.

The material generates electricity just like other solar cell materials do: light energizes the atoms of the material, and some of the electrons in those atoms are knocked loose.

Ideally, the electrons flow out of the device as electrical current, but this is where most solar cells run into trouble. The electrons only stay loose for a tiny fraction of a second before they sink back into the atoms from which they came. The electrons must be captured during the short time they are free, and this task, called charge separation, is difficult.

In the new hybrid material, electrons remain free much longer than ever before.

To design the hybrid material, the chemists explored different molecular configurations on a computer at the Ohio Supercomputer Center. Then, with colleagues at National Taiwan University, they synthesized molecules of the new material in a liquid solution, measured the frequencies of light the molecules absorbed, and also measured the length of time that excited electrons remained free in the molecules.

They saw something very unusual. The molecules didn’t just fluoresce as some solar cell materials do. They phosphoresced as well. Both luminous effects are caused by a material absorbing and emitting energy, but phosphorescence lasts much longer.

To their surprise, the chemists found that the new material was emitting electrons in two different energy states — one called a singlet state, and the other a triplet state. Both energy states are useful for solar cell applications, and the triplet state lasts much longer than the singlet state.

Electrons in the singlet state stayed free for up to 12 picoseconds, or trillionths of a second — not unusual compared to some solar cell materials. But electrons in the triplet state stayed free 7 million times longer — up to 83 microseconds, or millionths of a second.

When they deposited the molecules in a thin film, similar to how they might be arranged in an actual solar cell, the triplet states lasted even longer: 200 microseconds.

via thedailygreen

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 »

Zero-Net Energy Commercial Building

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

The connection fee for the 4100 sqft building is $266 and that’s all they pay…for the whole year. This is a building owned by Hudson Valley Clean Energy 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 »

Solar Panel Works At Night

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory partnered with Microcontinuum Inc. and Patrick Pinhero of the University of Missouri, are developing a new way to collect solar energy using nanotechnology that could cost pennies a yard, be imprinted on flexible materials and still collect energy at night.

The technology uses a special manufacturing process to stamp tiny square spirals, or “nanoantennas”, of conduction metal onto a sheet of plastic and the team estimates individual nanoantennas can absorb close to 80 percent of the available energy in comparison to current read more »

Sacramento’s First LEED Platinum Home

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

BP Solar and OCR Solar & Roofing have teamed up with R.J. Walter Homes and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to create the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum home in Sacramento. LEED is a rating system developed by the US Green Building Counsel (USGBC) that promotes the design and building of high-efficiency green homes.

OCR has installed BP Solar’s Integra® low profile solar modules on the home’s composition shingle roof. This 3.86 kW AC solar energy system will ensure clean, quiet electricity production. The system also features a Xantrex XW 6048 inverter that provides a hybrid grid interactive and battery back-up power system in the event that the grid goes down. The home’s builder estimates that the efficiency and environmental advancements combine to save a potential 83 percent on monthly electric and gas utility bills.

via renewableenergyworld, treehugger

Increased Solar Yields By Two to Three Times

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Vinod Kohsla, the founder of Sun Microsystems, who is now an alternative-energy venture capitalist, has discovered a new technology that will increase solar yield by 2-3 times what it is today. In an industry that lauds even the most incremental gain, this is a huge leap towards mainstream solar energy.

The new technology really isn’t new at all its simply using the heat behind solar panels and harnessing it for additional energy. This technology not only provides an additional heating source for a hot water heater or heating in the winter, it also helps the solar panels to cool. The hot air is moved by a small fan that pumps it to wherever the heat is needed and additionally adds more efficiency to the solar panels by cooling them down.

“We make around 100 percent more energy than a regular PV system,” said Gordon Handelsman, president of PVT Solar. Although no specifics numbers were given on specs or how many they have installed, they said have successfully installed between 10 and 20 units.

via nytimes