Photo-voltaic Impasse

Might have been broken.

Photovoltaic (PV) efficiency is a significant problem for today’s commercial solar panels, which can collect only a theoretical maximum of about 30 percent of available light. Now, a team that includes a University of Missouri engineer is developing a flexible solar film that can theoretically capture more than 90 percent of available light. Prototypes could be produced within the next five years.

Patrick Pinhero, an associate professor in the MU Chemical Engineering Department, says energy generated using traditional photovoltaic methods of solar collection is inefficient and neglects much of the available solar electromagnetic (sunlight) spectrum. The device the team is developing — essentially a thin, moldable sheet of small antennas called nantenna — is designed to harvest industrial waste heat and convert it into usable electricity. Their ambition is to extend this concept to direct solar facing nantenna devices capable of collecting energy broadly from the near infrared to the optical regions of the solar spectrum.

90% is much more like it. High-speed electrical circuitry. Inexpensive manufacturing processes. This is not being saved by technology so much as using engineering to break the problem down into manageable fragments until it’s no longer a problem and more of way to do what we want – harvest as much energy as possible for the sun.

Moving on to renewable energy sources can be done – and need not been seen or thought of a desperate last gasp/final hope but the natural of progression of technology and its uses that our subservience to fossil energy sources has for so long stymied. Departments of Energy whose first loyalty is to oil and gas industries will not provide the necessary R & D investments in replacing the same. This kind of research takes a lot of money, time and expertise – but the payoffs will be enormous. I’m looking at you, coal, in the rear view mirror.

Via IC.

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