New Technology and Spray-on Solar Panels!
- Author C. Michael Hunter
- Published December 9, 2011
- Word count 540
More and more people are making use of energy efficient products; one of the types of technology seeing greater popularity is solar panels. These large glass panels are installed in open areas such as roofs to gain maximum solar exposure and to generate electricity. Ironically, this current technology may become obsolete. A new kind of technology promises a spray-on solar generator with the use of nanotechnology.
Creating photovoltaic cells that can be used as paint is an extraordinary feat. The team working on this project is hoping to achieve the somewhat impossible task of using nanocrystals. Developers use four inorganic materials: copper, indium, gallium, and selenide. These particles are then dispersed in a solvent to form a unique type of paint that can function like a large photovoltaic cell.
The existing solar technology is a huge leap from earlier versions; despite that, there are still many limitations to its design. For one, creating a panel from individual photovoltaic cells is a laborious and time- consuming process, which is why the cost of a single panel remains high, despite the reduction of the cost of the material.
Another drawback is the amount of space needed to get the device in position. Usually, this kind of structure takes up a huge portion of a lawn; in areas where there is very limited space, installation of the panel is completed by a contractor on the roof, which is a costly project as well as the risk of damaging the roofing during the installation process. Positioning each panel for direct exposure to the sun also means that the panels are susceptible to damage from other elements, such as strong wind, hail, snow, and heavy rain.
The idea of a spray-on solar generator may seem futuristic; however, the technology is already a reality and in the process of refinement. One of the biggest advantages of the nano material is that it can be painted on any type of surface, whether it is plastic, metal or even fabric. Unlike conventional panels, there is no need for extensive modification of the structure where it will be applied.
Although the material comes in liquid form, it works similarly to conventional solar panels. The paint can be differentiated into three layers. A conductor is at the bottom, while the top collects the charges, and a third layer in the middle separates the top and bottom layer and actually absorbs the light.
Currently, the challenges that developers are encountering is improving the efficiency of the nano material. Current designs are only achieving three percent efficiency, whereas the goal is ten percent efficiency before going commercial. Other base materials are being tested that have same effect as copper, indium, gallium, and selenide; the requirement is that any such material be abundant in supply in order to further reduce the production costs. Despite these challenges, developers are optimistic that nanotechnology is the next step in solar power development.
A spray-on solar generator is a promising technological advancement, especially now that many individuals are seeking energy sources that are not generated by fossil fuel. It is unknown exactly when this technology of spray-on solar panel will be available commercially’ it is something that is definitely worth anticipating in the coming years!
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