By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Design
A team of scientists have developed a prototype for batteries that can be recharged simply by being left out in the sun.
A team of scientists are hoping to give those old school re-chargeable batteries a solar-powered makeover.
Mention solar technology to people and for many it still brings to mind big clunky panels housed at sprawling industrial facilities. But recent advances in solar cells has already allowed the technology to be miniaturized and integrated into a variety of everyday household products. Last year, the Japanese company Sanyo was honored with an IF Design award at the CeBIT technology conference for a developing a dual solar-powered light and USB charger. Now comes a battery prototype that can be recharged simply by being left out in the sun.
The researchers are calling their concept the Light Catcher, which is basically a photoelectronic battery comprised of tiny anti-reflective solar cells that soak up energy from the sun. A transparent encasing protects the battery while allowing sunlight to shine through. The batteries come in AA and AAA sizes and can be inserted into most portable electronics, anything from remote controls to toys. There's also the option to power electronics using a 3.5mm jack.
The innovators behind the "Light Catcher" concept are Yung-Hsaing Chang, Ming-Shien Lin and Chang-Ting Lu. The team developed the batteries as an entry into this year's iF Design awards, given out each year by the Hanover-based firm iF International Forum Design.
While miniaturized solar technology is still a ways from meeting the rigorous energy demands of many portable electronics like laptops and Smartphones, such advances are still quite promising. The amount of energy that can be tapped from sunlight is enormous considering that the current technology converts only a small percentage into use-able electricity.
Photo: Yanko Design
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Mar 1, 2011
Please learn some grammar: A team of scientists are (sic) hoping to give those old school re-chargeable batteries a solar-powered makeover. And as an added bonus, thorium can be used in molten salt reactors, which is (sic) capable of consuming nuclear waste.
this will save so much for people using betteries. Even though it might be a bit pricey it will benifit people. I mean im just a kid i tend to leave things next to a window near the sun. This habit might actually be good for the family. David Suzuki would be really proud.
There are a few simple safeguards already used in sun-charged portable powerpacks. One: a pathetically underamped photovoltaic that couldn't overcharge a 'AA' NiMH if you aimed a deathray at it. This is also the cheapest safety feature :-) In all seriousness it would be difficult to fit more than a quarter-watt photovoltaic on any standard-sized battery, but wouldn't it be neat if you could? At that point we'd add a NiMH charge-controller chip from a powertool batterypack. Only nobody does yet. Just sayin'. Two: a reverse-current blocking diode to keep the battery from discharging into the solar cell when it's dark (hold up your hand if you knew this was necessary). Three: a charge indicator such as a grain-of-salt-sized 5mA LED that lets you know the battery is topped off. Show it roomlight and a satisfied battery glows for you! The LED also prods you to take the battery off your windowsill before it cooks, which helps extend battery life, and it bleeds off excess power during float-charge situations. You could even get fancy and use an RGB LED that signals charge level by color.
Will the batteries overcharge and destroy themselves if you leave them on the car dashboard for a couple of days? Most NiMHs I have had are not protected from overcharging.
A well designed TV remote could have a clear cover over the batteries and stay charged for years just being left in the sun.
Fun idea, but using a standard audio jack for power is dangerous. People like to find matching plugs and jacks and put them together.
Hi, The AAA and AA and larger batteries not sure what they are called. Can you connect them in to series and then charge a Car battery? I tried to rig up 3 of the medium size torch batteries , one size up from AA and then connect minus and positive to the car battery accordingly, but it doesnt seem to work. When i measure the voltage instead of 12.5 odd volts it shows me 11.something and if i connect them in reverse then the current is lower - at least 10.something...so i assume that the positive to positive and negative to negative is correct but i am puzzled as i dont understand why the voltage reading is lower than 12v. Has anybody tried this before? is it possible? Im think for as a spare emergency helpful ... in case one day u are stuck.
Don't you have anything better to do with your skills? P.S. The grammer police called, you've been fired.