By Larry Dignan
Posting in Design
A University of Missouri engineer has developed a flexible solar sheet that captures more than 90 percent of available light. The move could be big ga...
A University of Missouri engineer has developed a flexible solar sheet that captures more than 90 percent of available light. The move could be big gain for solar panel efficiency.
Today's solar panels capture roughly 20 percent of available light.
Like most discoveries, these solar sheets won't be available immediately, but Patrick Pinhero, an associate professor in the Missouri University Chemical Engineering Department, aims to make prototypes available in the next five years.
How do these efficient solar panels work?
Pinhero and his team developed a thin, moldable sheet of small antennas---dubbed nantenna---to harvest heat. Nantennas are capable of collecting solar irradiation in the neared infrared and optical regions of the solar spectrum. Pinhero worked with a team at the University of Colorado to extract electricity.
The teams are looking to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and private investors. A second phase will focus on harvesting energy at industrial complexes.
It appears that these efficient solar sheets are designed to complement existing solar panels. The moldable sheets could be incorporated into roof shingles.
May 16, 2011
This isnt the first person to make the 90% flexible solar sheets as a company has been doing it for awhile in AZ and i have been trying to keep up for their stock release. You buy it in rolls by the foot and it is completely flexible and hail resistant but competititon is good.
90% efficiency is good. A 6 month lifespan wouldn't be. There are so many variables to consider (current solar panels lose 50% of their initial efficiency within 6 years) Photovoltaic isn't the only answer anyway. Heat harvesting has many uses.
My concern is - How can we keep the technology and manufacture in the USA where it is being invented? Maybe a robotic factory - then WE export the final product to the rest of the world and it will help us to make a living while helping other at the same time.
The solar industry needs higher efficiency levels and lower price points to reach the US Mass market. How will this innovative technology address these major growth barriers?