Posts from the ‘solar’ Category

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discoverynews:

*ding* Solar cells are done!

Nope… that’s my lunch.

laboratoryequipment:

Microwave Ovens Can Make Greener Solar Cells

The same type of microwave oven technology that most people use to heat up leftover food has found an important application in the solar energy industry, providing a new way to make thin-film photovoltaic products with less energy, expense and environmental concerns.

Engineers at Oregon State Univ. have for the first time developed a way to use microwave heating in the synthesis of copper zinc tin sulfide, a promising solar cell compound that is less costly and toxic than some solar energy alternatives.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/08/microwave-ovens-can-make-greener-solar-cells

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed_edition&videoId=world/2012/07/08/sayah-eco-pakistan-solar.cnn

A small refugee town in Pakistan is demonstrating the power of solar energy in changing lives. A few dozen families, many of them led by single mothers, are experiencing a revolution in not just green energy, but social acceptance and prosperity.

Each small house has four solar panels powering it, allowing for basic electrical amenities such as ceiling fans. The panels cost about $1500 each, and were paid for by a joint Chinese/German company. Many of the appliances were previously impossible for the families, many of whom had never known about solar energy. Most of the single mothers are able to own the houses outright, a usually rare occurrence that has fostered a more equal attitude toward women in the town.

Outside of the home, panels also power irrigation systems, water pumps, and city streetlights. This, combined with the strict attitudes of the residents, has resulted in greater production and virtually no crime.

As we work toward creating alternative energies that allow us to power large-scale grids, we need to be mindful of the effect that even small amounts of electricity can have on the impoverished of the world. If this small Pakistani village is any sort of example, it’s clear that electricity is more than just a luxury but a force that can change the world. 

In another big step for solar energy, researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a cheaper method of manufacturing solar cells. They are as much as 7 times thinner with the same productivity. The method is easily adaptable by the current machinery in factories, so hopefully this will serve as another big step toward making solar energy a viable fossil fuel replacement. 

Nanotubes allow for much thinner, cheaper solar panels

Made entirely of carbon and stable in open air, the transparent layer of carbon nanotubes and buckyballs can pick up infrared light, in addition to letting visible light through to conventional cells below. Although efficiency is only about .1%, it is expected to increase quickly. Because carbon is so cheap, the cost should be relatively low and therefore can go into use with a low efficiency. Every bit helps! Hopefully this can push solar energy to become a more powerful alternative.

MIT researchers develop working prototype of infrared-absorbing solar cells

realcleverscience:

smarterplanet:

Powerhouse Solar Cell Inspired by Leaf Biomimicry

A team of scientists headed up by Princeton University has achieved a whopping 47 percent increase in electricity generation from flexible plastic solar cells, simply by texturing the surface to mimic the wrinkles of a typical leaf.

Full Story: Cleantechnica

via emergentfutures:

1) Biomimicry is amazing. I love that human design is now recognizing that it has so much to learn from natural design. Especially when it can replace eco-questionable solutions with much more eco-friendly solutions – such as simply creating wrinkles on a surface as opposed to something like nano-sprays with unknown side-effects.

2) As the article notes, solar is getting very, very close to the 10-15% efficiency needed to make it competitive with traditional energy sources. And with the various solar innovations coming out, I expect we’ll hit that goal soon… and then surpass it by quite a bit. But of course, this requires research and funding. *cough*fund_science*cough*

Just look at Germany right now; their solar energy now provides almost half of their national need

thescienceofreality:

Super Moon? How About a Super Sun!

“On May 5, 2012, while everyone else was waiting for the “Super Moon” astrophotographer Alan Friedman was out capturing this super image of a super Sun from his back yard in Buffalo, NY!

Taken with a specialized telescope that can image the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, Alan’s photo shows the intricate detail of our home star’s chromosphere — the layer just above its “surface”, or photosphere.

Prominences can be seen rising up from the Sun’s limb in several places, and long filaments — magnetically-suspended lines of plasma — arch across its face. The “fuzzy” texture is caused by smaller features called spicules and fibrils, which are short-lived spikes of magnetic fields that rapidly rise up from the surface of the Sun.

On the left side it appears that a prominence may have had just detached from the Sun’s limb, as there’s a faint cloud of material suspended there.”

The clarity of this picture is incredible. I mean, just look at that bit of material that was just expelled! Also, job title: astrophotographer is awesome.

quantumaniac:

Earth Will One Day See a Second Sun

Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star located in the Orion constellation, about 640 light-years away from Earth – is preparing to explode via a supernova. When it does, the Earth will have a front-row seat; in fact, the explosion will be so bright that Earth will seem to briefly have two suns in the sky. 

Betelgeuse is one of the brightest and largest stars in our immediate galactic neighborhood – if you dropped it in our Solar System, it would extend all the way out to Jupiter, leaving Earth completely engulfed. In stellar terms, it’s predicted to explode in the very near future. Of course, the conversion from stellar to human terms is pretty extreme, as Betelgeuse is predicted to explode anytime in the next million years.

But still, whether the explosion occurs in 2011 or 1002011 (give or take 640 years for the light to reach Earth), it’s going to make for one of the most unforgettable light shows in our planet’s history. For a few weeks, the supernova will be so bright that there will appear to be two stars in the sky, and night will be indistinguishable from day for much of that time. So don’t count on getting a lot of sleep when Betelgeuse explodes, because the only sensible thing for the world to do will be to throw a weeks-long global supernova party.

Physicist Brad Carter explains what Earth (and hopefully humanity) can look forward to:

“This is the final hurrah for the star. It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up – we’ll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all.”

Although there’ll be no missing the explosion, Carter points out that the vast majority of material shot out from the supernova will pass by Earth completely unnoticed:

“When a star goes bang, the first we will observe of it is a rain of tiny particles called neutrinos. They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever.”

In any event, the Betelgeuse explosion will likely be the most dramatic supernova Earth ever witnesses – well, unless our Sun eventually explodes and destroys our planet, which would probably leave Betelgeuse the runner-up.

We should have a global supernova party every year anyway!