Archive for the ‘Solar Energy News’ Category

Solar Power – Paves The Way to a Bright Future

Professor David Faiman director of the national center for solar energy has developed a new type of solar power that might be the answer to future world problems when oil runs out.While Middle Eastern countries may disagree on many issues, the sun is something everyone shares.
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Lastest solar Power News – Solar Home

News clip of a solar powered home and its impact on energy consumption.
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Cell Phone Chargers to go Green

Costs for Thermo-photovoltaic Cells Significantly Reduced

Thermo-photovoltaic (TPV) cells are important for changing radiation from any heat source to power. These cells can generate power from the wasted heat which gets released when glass or steel is developed. Adding these TPV cells to domestic power systems can help generate power along with heating water. TPV systems are also overly complex for everyday use. Both of these reasons have made the TPV systems beyond industrial and domestic consumer routine set-up.

Prohibitive cost:

Though TPV cells can be used to enhance the domestic heating system efficiency, the price is a daunting factor in deploying cated on epi-ready substrates, these cells were commercialized for III-V layered epitaxial growth.

Unique new processing technique:

But IMEC has been researching more original and better methods. IMEC has used amorphous Si by diffusion and passivation to form the emitter. Ge substrates specially designed were produced and tested. Ge substrates defined (germanium-based) TPV cells had better quantum efficiency as compared to epi-ready started traditional TPV cells.

Benefits of new method:

The increased efficiency of the germanium-based TPV cells can means more electricity generation from waste heat. An addition in cell performance and reduction in price are the direct result of the surface passivation techniques and the new contacting technologies that had been uniquely formulated by IMEC. The new TPV cells will be crafted up on the special germanium substrate designed and produced just for this.

IMEC’s contribution:

Jef Poortmans, Director Photovoltaics, IMEC, claimed, “IMEC’s research into photovoltaics aims at finding techniques to fabricate cost-efficient and more efficient solar cells.” IMEC has had a long innings in making silicon solar cells and this has been instrumental in the success of their TPV research.

Better future:

As band-gap of the germanium is very near the emission height of the TPV system emitters, germanium-based photovoltaic devices can be found as the appropriate receivers for these kinds of systems. Now with the decreased cell price because of the better processing methods, the future of the market for thermo-photovoltaic applications looks brighter.

Searched Solar Info

Flexible Solar Powered Rooftop Shingles

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland have produced flexible solar panels that could be installed on roofs like shingles. This technology was originally used to protect flat panel televisions from dampness. They used to cover television screen with transparent, thin films that acted as barriers. These transparent thin film barriers are now becoming the basis for flexible solar panels that would be put in on roofs like shingles. These flexible rooftop solar panels are known as building-integrated photovoltaics, or BIPVs. They could replace today’s boxy solar panels. We all know that current solar panels are made with rigid glass or silicon and mounted on thick metal frames. If we compare present solar panels and flexible solar shingles we will find the later ones less costly to install than present-day panels and made to last 25 years.

This technology was developed by PNNL in 1990s. They consider utilizing this technology in fifteen possible ways. One of it was solar power. But when Vitex Systems licensed the technology from Battelle, it refocused its goals. They saw potential and commercial success in producing ultra-barrier films for flat-panel displays, such as televisions. Now Vitex and PNNL, which is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy, are reorienting the use of ultra-barrier films. The time might be right for them to exploit the latest alternative energy scenario. Mark Gross, a PNNL senior scientist, explains “There’s a lot of wasted space on rooftops that could actually be used to generate power. Flexible solar panels could easily become integrated into the architecture of commercial buildings and homes. Solar panels have had limited success because they’ve been difficult and expensive to install.”

The encapsulation procedure and the ultra-barrier film – called Barix™ Encapsulation and Barix™ Barrier Film, correspondingly – are already established and efficient moisture barriers. Now researchers are trying to find out a technology that could be successfully implemented to solar panels. The research work will be attempted by Vitex and Battelle. It will be done under a cooperative research and development agreement newly signed by Vitex and Battelle. Battelle is the majority shareholder of Vitex, based in San Jose, California. Presently researchers are engaged in creating low-cost flexible barrier films and they are evaluating substrate materials for solar panels that can survive sunshine, rain and hail for decades. They will also work out the details of manufacturing procedure for large-scale production.

PNNL’s research will be funded by DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technology Commercialization Fund. The calculated cost of the project willbe $350,000 . A commercial match to the funding is necessary, and Vitex will supply up to $350,900 in labor, equipment and materials. If this project is completed successfully, this progression will decrease solar panel manufacturing costs to less than $1 per watt of power, which would be competitive with the 10 cents per kilowatt-hour that a utility would charge.

Vitex is proud to continue its long, successful relationship with PNNL,” said Martin Rosenblum, Vitex’s vice president of operations and engineering. “Vitex is excited to further its Barix™ technology’s proven barrier performance for photovoltaics toward mass manufacturing. Together, we look forward to creating a product that will help alleviate America’s dependence on foreign oil and increase America’s access to an abundant renewable energy source – the sun.”

Searched Solar Info

The Ultimate Solar Cell?

The ultimate step in applying solar power is to convert uttermost energy from sun into electricity. This will make solar power extremely cost-advantageous compared to other traditional power sources. Seizing energy wasted as heat from the sun can increase solar transition efficiency greatly. Research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy is on-going to make this happen.

Not all solar energy utilized:

In reality only approximately 31% of solar energy is changed over into electricity. The rest of the energy is not able to be harnessed as it becomes heat – as ‘hot electrons’ – which is lost very rapidly because electrons cool down very quick. Capturing just about all solar energy and converting to electricity is the goal of the ‘ultimate solar cell’.

Utilizing the hot electrons:

Since half the solar energy is lost as heat, the first step will be to slow down the cooling rate of these electrons. The second step will be to seize the hot electrons and use them before the heat energy gets dissipated and lost. And harness the heat energy taking the electrons out via a conducting wire with minimum energy loss.

Semiconductor nanocrystals – quantum dots:

Quantum dots play a pivotal function in the transfer of hot electrons. The research demonstrated that the hot electrons can be transferred to a titanium dioxide electron conductor with the help of photo-excited lead selenide nanocrystals (quantum dots). The aim is to minimize energy loss by having the most efficient conductor wire. This will provide the fast removal of electrons from the solar cell before they cool down.

Solar power – the best energy source:

With growing awareness of dwindling sources of fossil fuels, green, environmentally friendly, bio-renewable energy sources are beacon lights of energy sources in future. Solar energy will be the most efficient and basic source of such energy. This research is an important step in the existence of the ultimate solar cell.

The team:

Chemist, Xiaoyang Zhu, University of Texas, Austin, led the team consisting of William Tisdale, Brooke Timp, David Norris and Eray Aydil – all from the University of Minneso and also Kenrick Williams, from University of Texas.

Light-driven Nanomotor

How we see things around us without noticing it! We know the unusual habit of the sunflower. How it moves with the movement of the sun each day. But if we want to move anything with the help of sunlight we are not as fortunate as the sunflower is. We first have to convert sunlight into heat or electricity and then convert any of this into mechanical energy. Scientists are trying to copy the action of the sunflower at nanoscale right now. It is no less than a miracle but scientists are the greatest magicians on this earth. Coming generations will reap the benefits of their hard work. A team of the University of Florida chemists is trying a new mechanism to transform light straight into motion – albeit at a very, very, very tiny scale.

Their paper will look soon in the online edition of the journal Nano Letters. The UF team produced a new type of “molecular nanomotor” driven only by photons. Photons are also known as particles of light. While this is not the first photon-driven nanomotor, but what differentiates this nanomotor with others is that this almost microscopic device is totally made up of a single molecule of DNA. This feature makes this photon nanometer special because this simplicity heightens the flexibility of the device. When we are going to use this photon nanomotor in the real world we can easily upgrade, modify, alter the existing one for development, manufacture and real-world applications. It is said that this technology can be used for various purposes and it ranges from medicine to manufacturing.

Huaizhi Kang, who is the doctoral student in chemistry at UF and the first author of the paper said, “It is easy to assemble, has fewer parts and theoretically should be more efficient.”

We have to stress the point again and again that the scale of the nanomotor is almost vanishingly small but its implications are not.

In its clasped, or closed, form, the nanomotor measures 2 to 5 billionths of a meter. When it is unclasped, it extends as long as 10 to 12 nanometers. According to the apparent scientific calculations the nanomotor uses substantially more of the energy in light than traditional solar cells, the amount of force it exerts is proportional to its small size. But it should be clear that size is not going to be a limiting factor.

If we try to glance into the future the nanomotor will successfully be implemented to microscopic devices. It can mend a defunct cell or fight viruses or bacteria. Nanomotor is made up of DNA, so it is biocompatible. While in the conceptual stage, those devices, like much bigger ones, will require a power source to function. One more advantage of the nanomotor is it leaves no waste when it converts light energy into motion.

Preparation of DNA molecules is relatively easy and reproducible, and the material is very safe,” said Yan Chen, a UF chemistry doctoral student and one of the authors of the paper.

But the practical world applications don’t seem easy. If we want to run an assembly line production or drive a vehicle by using nanomotors we would need trillions of those. They have to work together in harmony. Weihong Tan, a UF professor of chemistry and physiology, author of the paper and the leader of the research group reporting the findings, acknowledged, “The major difficulty lies ahead that is how to collect the molecular level force into a coherent accumulated force that can do real work when the motor absorbs sunlight.”

Tan is quite optimistic that the group has already started working on the problem and they would find an answer. He said, “Some prototype DNA nanostructures incorporating single photo-switchable motors are in the making which will synchronize molecular motions to accumulate forces.”

How idi the team make the nanomotor? The research team combined a laboratory-created DNA molecule with azobenzene. Azobenzene is a chemical compounds that reacts to light. A high-energy photon prompts one response, lower energy, another. The researchers attached a fluorophore, or light-emitter, to one end of the nanomotor to demonstrate the movement. At another end they had a quencher, which can quench the emitting light. Their instruments recorded emitted light intensity that corresponded to the motor movement. The research is being funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Radiation does cause things to move from the spinning of radiometer wheels to the turning of sunflowers and other plants toward the sun,” said Richard Zare, distinguished professor and chairman of chemistry at Stanford University. “What Professor Tan and co-workers have done is to create a clever light-actuated nanomotor involving a single DNA molecule. I believe it is the first of its type.”

Dock Here for Clean Renewable Solar Energy!

This can very well take place in the close future with billboards advertising – bold and strong, beckoning electric vehicles for recharging. Already in Berlin-Adlershof, this is going on. The biggest independently functional solar charging station is providing high-quality, computerized and totally safe kind of solar charging to electrical cars. Electric-power cars’ handicap – finding a place for recharging on the run – is now being captured by this power refill station. Accurate calculated billing, electronic identification for access and automatic safety flaps are extra attractions. And no queues to bug you! At one time, eight vehicles can be recharged!

Components of solar station:

What makes this station so unique? Three great components – a mover to generate electricity, a battery to store the power efficiently and an intelligent and completely computerized connector system -for charging and billing – add to up to make this station come true.

1. Mover:

A biaxial photovoltaic 12-module generator which pursues the sun generating 40% more energy than standard mono-axial systems – from Solon stable.

2. Storage Unit:

A vanadium redox flow battery behaving as storehouse to store 100kWh that is adequate by furnishing 10kW at any time – an ideal storage anyplace for any kind of renewable energy – be it solar, biomass or wind generated.

3. Electrical Connector/charging system – Completely computerized:

A unique system with software to monitor the outlet and handle the charging very optimally and especially intelligently. A GSM modem to operate the flow of communication between the external services. Individually accessible outlet socket modules, with motorized flap and other electronic gadgetry, to do the billing accurately and precisely identifying the user.

Charges all electrically driven vehicles:

This stand-alone charging station supplies clean renewable solar energy charges not just for cars, but for every electric vehicles. Rather a few Vectrix electric scooters are running merrily on the city roads and Solon Campus used by Solon staff.

A combined attempt:

The solar charging station, Younicos turnkey offer, is the fruit of the mixed efforts of Solon’s Photovoltaic power plant, Cellstrom’s Vanadium Redox flow battery, and Younico’s intelligent charging system. All hands to let the fossils stay put in peace and the world operate on cleaner CO2-free energy!

Solar Powered Wi-Fi Bus Stops

What a pleasing combination for environmentalists! While you are waiting for your bus to come you can happily stay in touch with the cyber world. San Francisco bus stops create solar electricity and offer Wi-Fi connectivity as well. By 2013, San Francisco is planning to have 1100 such solar-powered bus shelters put in throughout the city. This project can act as a catalyst for other states and even countries to follow. They have taken care of the bus stops at the grass root level also. They have used recycled materials to produce these bus stops. The bus stops’ roofs will have solar panels. The underutilized energy of these bus shelters will be directed back to the grids.

The shelter will capture the solar energy with a rolling red top of photovoltaic panels to power the LEDs, the Wi-Fi routers and the intercom. When all the 1100 shelters are installed and in working order these routers will provide Wi-Fi connectivity, probably throughout the state.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom recently introduced the first solar powered bus shelters designed by Lundberg Design. This solar bus stop is located at Geary and Arguello boulevards in the Richmond District. This new bus shelter boasts of an undulating solar roof that resembles both the hills of San Francisco and a seismic wave. San Francisco falls in the seismic zone. 40% post-industrial recycled polycarbonate material is used in the structure of the roof. In between thin-film photovoltaic cells are embedded. The steel used in the bus shelter is of 75% recycled material. Another advantage of using the recycled material is the reduction in maintenance price. These materials will not be graffiti and etching friendly. “We’re going to see a very stringent maintenance schedule adopted and implemented,” Newsom opined. “I’m looking forward to seeing this shelter looking like this four, five, ten years from now. I’ll be driving by — and riding by, because little do you know I take Muni in spite of some of those who wish I didn’t so they’d have another reason to criticize me.”

The shelter also features a pushbutton update system, more room for transit information, and is expected to feed the energy into the city’s electrical grid.

Though the site of the first shelter is in the foggiest parts of town, but it definitely proclaims to have a clear vision and set great standard for things to come. The current color is ruby red but they will soon utilize amber as more shelters are installed along Market Street and throughout San Francisco. Mayor Newsom proudly proclaimed: “Transit shelters that use photovoltaics, LEDS, and WiFi are going to be standard in the future and I’m proud that San Francisco is once again acting like the pace car for other cities by trying and implementing these technologies.”

The polycarbonate roof structure was configured by 3form Materials Solutions. The photovoltaic laminates were supplied by Konarka Power Plastic. None of the two companies had any experience in implanting photovoltaic cells into a polycarbonate base. But they had produced a technology that realizes negligible electricity loss, and subsequently patented the procedure.

The MTA and Clear Channel didn’t go for a predesigned solution. They held a design competition and selected a local architect, Olle Lundberg of Lundberg Design. Olle Lundberg confirmed that this was his first civic project. His firm designed and built restaurants.

It’s been fun to leave your signature on the city,” said Lundberg. “We’ve done some really beautiful buildings in the city, but honestly nothing will have the same impact as [1100] of these will. These are going to be everywhere and are going to be this kind of icon. I do hope that they become part of the street vocabulary of San Francisco.”

New Concentration Solar Power Modules

The alternative sources of energy are perpetually evolving. Scientists and manufacturers are trying to come up with more beneficial products that are user friendly and efficient. Government is drawing policies that promote use of alternative sources of energy. Researchers, entrepreneurs and common people are devising their own ways to use clean and green sources of energy. We are reading nearly each day about some innovation in the area of alternative energy by one university or another. Newly, University of Lleida has designed a concentration solar power module that creates heat, cold and electricity. The unique feature of these solar power modules is that they can be integrated to façades or building roofs. People instrumental in this project are Daniel Chemisana who is a member of the research group in Agrometeorology and Energy for Environment, Manel Ibáñez and Joan Ignasi Rosell. Both Manel Ibáñez and Joan Ignasi Rosell are lecturers in University of Lleida.

The team has formulated a thermal-photovoltaic modular system having a solar concentration of ten suns. Solar concentration of ten suns implies only a tenth part of a standard system’s active surface is needed to create the same energy. This energy can be in the form of electricity, heat, or both at the same time. It is understood that the reduction in the surface of used solar cells can lead to reduction in price of solar panels. The added advantage is this new technology can generate cold by connecting a heat pump to the system. They have already requested a worldwide patent for this system.

How this research team was able to reduce the surface area without compromising on the amount of power generation? A stationary lens and a linear absorber plate are the main components of the concentrator system. Lens and a linear absorber plate help in concentrating the sunlight to generate energy. This concentration system is responsible for reducing the space that until now was needed with traditional plates. It is to be known that traditional plates move around in search of sunlight.

Rosell also emphasized about the architectural integration that is the USP of this module. These modules can be installed either on roofs or in façades, which will definitely cut down their visual impact. You can set up these plates on roofs, on the closure of concrete or brick blocks. They will act as a curtain wall in the façades or as a part of the railings in terraces. You can term them as your “building’s second skin”. This module is useful for residential buildings, companies or farms.

Why one should go for this model? According to Rosell aside from making a second skin for a building, this device also demonstrates the global efficiency of energy conversion. The conversion rate could rise above 60%. Researchers at University of Lleida are hoping that the product could be manufactured at commercial scale in a year if companies show positive response for this technology. The prototype has been funded by CIDEM and has the support of the University of Lleida Technological Springboard.