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The Recent Developments in Solar Energy Technology

There have been many breakthroughs in the field of solar energy technology recently which may have the ability to completely revolutionize the way energy is generated. One of the best places to learn about new and exciting developments in solar energy technology and other renewable energy technology is by looking at reputable science journals and news websites. 

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.

BioSolar Technology

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. 

plantsBruce 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 materials. 

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 perfected. 

Using Nanoparticles in Solar Technology

Nanoparticles are 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 panels. 

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 point. 

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 solar turbine. 

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.

paintNanotechnology 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 paint

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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