A new prototype for solar panels is being developed that could revolutionize the solar panel industry. It uses either sun or rain to create power. The new technology was developed by scientists in China and turns raindrops into electric power.
Fox News reported that the new solar panel design can be triggered by either sun or rain. Scientists at the Ocean University of China and Yunnan Normal University noted that the technology has the ability to solve the energy crisis.
“All-weather solar cells are promising in solving the energy crisis. The new solar cell can be excited by incident light on sunny days and raindrops on rainy days.”
— CloudSolar (@GoCloudSolar) April 11, 2016
Current solar panel technology uses dye-sensitized solar cells to absorb sunlight and produce electrons, which create energy. They are made of a thin film photovoltaic cells that harness an organic dye to produce the energy. The Science Journal said that using a thin film of highly conductive graphene made it possible to create energy from raindrops.
Vasilis Fthenakis, a senior research scientist and adjunct professor at Columbia University, said that although the technology had additional costs, it was worth the effort because it was a viable way to produce energy, and its benefits outweighed those costs. He went on to say that it would even work in areas that typically weren’t viable for solar energy.
“The dye-sensitized cells where this is applied are not the type of technology that would be deployed globally as a replacement of conventional energy; they have applications mostly in diffuse-light applications, not in the high sun regions.”
— Geek.com (@geekdotcom) April 11, 2016
Geek said that the problem with solar panels was that they needed to be outside and it required sunlight to power them. The team of scientists in Qingdao, China, are working to solve this issue, and their solution would generate power even when the weather turns gloomy.
The experimental material, graphene, was discovered in 2004. It has been a hot topic ever since it was discovered, and it contains a thin layer of highly conductive carbon atoms in a single layer lattice format. What makes it remarkable is that it has high thermal and electrical conductivity. In previous work done with graphene, it showed that power could be generated by exposing the graphene to salt water. The Chinese scientists were able to create the same effect with their work.
— inhabitat (@inhabitat) April 11, 2016
What happens when the raindrops hit these special solar panels is that it creates a layer of positive ions. This is caused by the small amount of salt that is present in the water. Because of the wealth of delocalized electrons on the surface of the graphene which produce a negative charge, and the positive charge of the water, it results in electrical potential and these layers produce voltage. It’s basically the equivalent of a battery.
Although this new solar panel technology looks promising, it still has a long way to go. Each panel that was tested only produced the equivalent amount of power of an AA battery. The energy conversion only topped out at about seven percent, which is much lower than the output currently produced by traditional solar panels, which is roughly 20 to 30 percent.
One other hurdle is that using salt water has a high salt content. Rainwater traditionally has a much lower salt content, which means that it produces a much lower level of power. Still, solar panels are one of the cleanest forms of energy, and sunlight is plentiful, making it a promising technology.
[Photo by Pixabay]