One of the best sites for
this is probably Science Daily, which breaks down some of the more
technical stories found in journals and makes them easier to read and
understand. If you’d prefer to read some of these scientific journals
themselves, some of the best are Science Magazine and Science Direct.
The world of solar energy is constantly evolving and changing, so new
solar power technology is being developed daily. Therefore, we’ll take
a look at just a few of the most exciting developments which have
recently taken place.
The leading innovator in
this newly developing field is University of Tennessee professor Barry
D. Bruce, whom Forbes magazine called one of “Ten Revolutionaries Who
May Change the World” in 2007. His technology mainly revolves around
using the photosynthetic properties of plants to generate electricity instead
of the traditional materials in solar panels.
Bruce and his team of
scientists are using bioengineered blue-green algae which interact
with a metallic semi-conductor to generate electricity in a similar way
to the photo-voltaic cells which are used in traditional solar panels.
One of the major benefits to this technology is that it utilizes
completely natural products to generate electricity, while most
standard photo-voltaic solar cells are constructed of toxic
The production of
traditional solar panels also requires a large amount of energy and
therefore produces an equal amount of pollution, while the bio-solar
cells are constructed of naturally occurring materials.
This means that
this technology has the ability to produce truly clean, emission free
solar energy, and can be used anywhere in the world where plants are
able to grow. While this technology is still very much in its infancy,
the possibilities for utilizing it remain limitless if it can be
Using Nanoparticles in
particles which are smaller than one billionth of a meter in diameter,
and have been a major area of scientific research in recent times. The
possibilities for their use in solar energy have lead to quite a few
recent developments. Scientists have been recently looking into used
linked nanoparticles to create solar panels which are much cheaper to
produce and more efficient than standard crystalline silicon solar
The major problem with
silicon solar panels is that they are not very efficient; in fact most
of the sunlight that hits them does not create electricity, but rather
is turned into heat which actually causes damage to the solar panels
themselves. This has led scientists to turn to research into solar
thermal collectors, which reflect the sun’s rays onto one focal
The focal point is on a
tank where water is then heated to produce steam, which in turn powers a
turbine. This technology is used in most new solar power plants
that are being built today. However, nanotechnology has the ability to
increase the energy generating capabilities of both solar thermal
collectors and standard solar panel arrays. Using nanoparticles can
reduce the cost of traditional solar panels and make them more
effective, which would in turn make them a much more viable, less
expensive option for homeowners and businesses.
Scientists at the Arizona
State University have also been experimenting with using nanoparticles
in the heat-transfer oil which is at the focal point of a solar thermal
collector. This heat transfer oil is what actually causes the water to
boil, and is one of the most important parts of a solar collector or a
The researchers have
inserted graphite nanoparticles which are black and therefore attract
and absorb light into the heat transfer oil, and this has allowed them
to increase the electricity production by at least ten percent.
Nanotechnology has also
led to another of the most exciting developments in solar power
technology, and this development has the ability to allow anyone to
quickly turn anything into a solar panel. Scientists at the University
of Notre Dame have been experimenting with what is essentially solar
They have developed a
method of inserting nanoparticles into a substance which can then be
painted onto any conductive surface. The scientists have decided to
name their new paint-on solar compound “Sun-Believable” which seems
like a fitting name for this truly unique and revolutionary invention.
However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll soon find this product on sale
at your local hardware store as the technology is far from being
perfected. The researchers admit that
this paint is not that efficient yet: it has an efficiency of around
one percent as compared with the ten to fifteen percent that is seen in
traditional solar panels. However, one of the major benefits with this
compound is that it can be produced incredibly cheaply and in
industrial scale quantities, which could make it much easier for anyone
to create and construct their own solar home.
This technology has the
ability to completely revolutionize the DIY solar world and possibly
even eliminate the need to ever purchase traditional solar panels.
Nanotechnology is completely changing the science world as a whole, and
solar technology is one of the areas where it could make a huge
difference in the way we live and work. If these technologies are
perfected, within a few years we may even see traditional crystalline
silicon solar panels disappear altogether.
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