Disposable solar panels developed using nanotechnology
University of Cape Town news release
November 21, 2005
Scientists at the University of Cape Town are exploiting the nano-scale properties of silicon to develop a super-thin disposable solar panel poster which they hope could offer rural dwellers a cheap, alternative source of power. Many people living in remote areas are not linked to the national electricity grid, and use batteries or run their own generators to supply their power needs. The scientists have developed technology for printing specialised inks containing tiny nanoparticles of silicon and other semiconductors onto paper. The solar panels are printed in much the same way as conventional colour images, using three or four separate print runs with black, blue, yellow and magenta ink. They print the metal contacts, then the semiconductor structure, then more contacts. The voltage and power output of the solar cell is determined by the size of the poster. An A2-sized poster will deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a cellphone, power a radio or provide five hours of lighting, said Prof David Britton, a physicist specialising in nanotechnology. Many families cannot afford R1000 for a solar panel designed to last 30 years, but they can afford R10 every three to six months for a ‘disposable’ panel, he said.
Shops could stock rolls of solar panel posters, and cut it to meet a customer’s needs. The poster could be mounted behind a window or attached to a cabinet. Britton’s team has built a successful prototype and is seeking to commercialise the project.
This is a modified news release from the University of Cape Town.
Solar projects in California desert could help state’s energy problems: Two large solar projects in the desert of California could boost industrial-scale development of solar technology according to an article in today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Organic solar cells will help spur viability of alternative energy: Imagine being able to “paint” your roof with enough alternative energy to heat and cool your home. What if soldiers in the field could carry an energy source in a roll of plastic wrap in their backpacks?
Harvesting tornadoes as power plants; renewable wind vortex energy: Engineers are working to use artificial tornadoes as a renewable energy source according to an article in last week’s issue of The Economist. Storms release a tremendous amount of energy. Hurricane Katrina, a category 4 hurricane, released enough energy to supply the world’s power needs for a year, while the typical tornado produces as much power as a large power station.