• 3 minutes Could Venezuela become a net oil importer?
  • 7 minutes Reuters: OPEC Ministers Agree In Principle On 1 Million Barrels Per Day Nominal Output Increase
  • 12 minutes Battle for Oil Port: East Libya Forces In Full Control At Ras Lanuf
  • 3 hours Oil prices going Up? NO!
  • 13 hours Renewables to generate 50% of worldwide electricity by 2050 (BNEF report)
  • 12 hours Reuters: OPEC Ministers Agree In Principle On 1 Million Barrels Per Day Nominal Output Increase
  • 18 hours Oil prices going down
  • 21 hours Could oil demand collapse rapidly? Yup, sure could.
  • 2 days Could Venezuela become a net oil importer?
  • 11 hours China’s Plastic Waste Ban Will Leave 111 Million Tons of Trash With Nowhere To Go
  • 2 days Oil Buyers Club
  • 18 hours Saudi Arabia turns to solar
  • 5 hours Kenya Eyes 200+ Oil Wells
  • 2 days Gazprom Exports to EU Hit Record
  • 5 hours Are Electric Vehicles Really Better For The Environment?
  • 20 hours Battle for Oil Port: East Libya Forces In Full Control At Ras Lanuf
  • 1 day Russia's Energy Minister says Oil Prices Balanced at $75, so Wants to Increase OPEC + Russia Oil by 1.5 mbpd
  • 19 hours Tesla Closing a Dozen Solar Facilities in Nine States
  • 10 hours OPEC soap opera daily update
Serving The 2 Billion Unbanked: A New Trillion Dollar Market

Serving The 2 Billion Unbanked: A New Trillion Dollar Market

Fintech, alongside blockchain, has been…

Shale Shifts Attention To This ‘Forgotten’ Oil Play

Shale Shifts Attention To This ‘Forgotten’ Oil Play

As the Permian becomes overcrowded,…

Tofu: Not Just For Dinner Anymore

Compared to meat, tofu is a more healthful, cheaper, and less environmentally damaging food protein, and now researchers have discovered it also contains an ingredient that could replace a highly toxic and costly substance found in about 90 percent of the solar cells used today.

The traditional substance, an important element in millions of solar panels, is cadmium chloride. Not only is it toxic and expensive, it requires complex safeguards when manufacturing solar cells and special disposal after solar panels are discarded.

Enter Jon Major of the University of Liverpool’s Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy. Major has discovered that magnesium chloride can be substituted for cadmium chloride in solar cells, and that it’s equally effective in solar cells.

Magnesium chloride is extracted from seawater and is a common ingredient in aromatic bath salts, in foods such as tofu and for melting ice on wintry roads. In other words, it so safe that people not only soak in it, they eat it as well.

By contrast, engineers applying cadmium chloride to solar cells must wear protective gear to prevent contact with the skin, eyes and lungs. Cadmium chloride treatment also requires a rinsing step, and the water used for rinsing must be processed very carefully, or it could find its way into the water table, then poison animals and people.

What’s more, magnesium chloride is so easy to find that it costs only one-one thousandth of a U.S. penny, compared with three-tenths of a cent for cadmium chloride.

Related Article: How Food Can Build Better Lithium Batteries

Major’s research was published in the scientific journal Nature.

One of the biggest problems with much renewable energy has been expense. “If renewable energy is going to compete with fossil fuels, then the cost has to come down,” Major explained. “Great strides have already been made, but the findings in this paper have the potential to reduce costs further.”

So far, the least expensive solar cells are based on a thin film of insoluble cadmium telluride. Alone, these cells convert less than two percent of sunlight into energy. By applying cadmium chloride to them, the panels’ efficiency increases to over 15 percent. And Major’s work shows that substituting magnesium chloride for cadmium chloride achieves the same efficiency.

“We have to apply cadmium chloride in a fume cupboard in the lab,” Major said, “but we created solar cells using the new method on a bench with a spray gun bought from a model shop. … Replacing [cadmium chloride] with a naturally occurring substance could save the industry a vast amount of money.”

Asked why no one had previously thought of replacing cadmium chloride with magnesium chloride, Major said, “The only reason we can suggest is that cadmium chloride works well so it may be a case of ‘if it’s not broke, why is there a need to fix it?’ ”

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com



Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News