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U.S. Solar Boom Stumbles

U.S. Solar Boom Stumbles

Higher costs and supply constraints…

Andy Soos

Andy Soos

Andy Soos is a writer for the news site: Environmental News Network

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A Look at the Technology Behind Solar Powered Windows

Windows let in light and with the light solar heat. There are many forms of passive design control of windows to maximize the light, collect the heat, and maximize or minimize the heat that enters through the window. Heat is energy and can be theoretically transformed into power and electricity. A new type of transparent solar film developed by the U.S. Department of Energy could turn windows into clean electricity generators. Harnessing the power of the sun means placing solar collection devices where they are most likely to be in direct contact with its rays. For many years, that ideal place has been the roofs of homes and businesses, but newer technologies are aimed at expanding this range to windows as well.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, have created a new type of self-assembling transparent thin film material that could boost the cost-effectiveness and scalability of solar window production.

The material consists of a semiconducting polymer doped with carbon-rich fullerenes. When the polymer is applied to a surface under controlled conditions, the pattern repeats over a large area.

The material, developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, consists of a semiconducting polymer doped with carbon-rich fullerenes — soccer-ball-shaped, cage-like molecules composed of 60 carbon atoms. When applied to a surface under carefully controlled conditions, the material self-assembles in a repeating pattern of micron-sized hexagonal-shaped cells resembling a honeycomb over a relatively large area (up to several millimeters).

The densely packed edges of the honeycomb shape strongly absorb light and could facilitate electrical conductivity, while the centers don’t absorb much light and are relatively transparent, according to the researchers.

Passive solar window design depends more on the angle of the sun and the position of the window to maximize its performance. Such helps with the solar window too but the power that might be developed is a new novelty.

But a solar window is not the only way. Someone is trying to do the same with venetian blinds. The solar panel Venetian blind design by Vincent Gerkens is a green technology that captures solar energy during the day and gives it back at night.

The concept uses a flexible solar cell that fits over the surface of the venation blinds along with an electroluminescent neon foil to transmit the solar power back into light again. The solar energy captured by the flexible solar cells will be stored in the blinds upper housing (where the pull cord enters) and will be available for other uses such as computers or other electrical gadgets.

These new solar power methods are not yet commercial but point to how human ingenuity can supply amazing answers. The final answers as to how solar power will be supplied in the future will ultimately have many different methods working together.

By. Andy Soos of Environmental News Network


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  • Anonymous on April 29 2011 said:
    This is real science-'nonfiction'... and if True, its going to re-invent the good uses of Nano Technology.Keep It Going!

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