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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Huge solar power breakthrough from the University of Missouri!

Big news!

Check it out:

Efficiency is a problem with today's solar panels; they only collect about 20 percent of available light. Now, a University of Missouri engineer has developed a flexible solar sheet that captures more than 90 percent of available light, and he plans to make prototypes available to consumers within the next five years.



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Patrick Pinhero, an associate professor in the MU Chemical Engineering Department, says  generated using traditional photovoltaic (PV) methods of solar collection is inefficient and neglects much of the available solar electromagnetic (sunlight) spectrum. The device his team has developed – essentially a thin, moldable sheet of small antennas called nantenna – can harvest the heat from industrial processes and convert it into usable electricity. Their ambition is to extend this concept to a direct solar facing nantenna device capable of collecting solar irradiation in the near infrared and optical regions of the solar .
Working with his former team at the Idaho National Laboratory and Garrett Moddel, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Colorado, Pinhero and his team have now developed a way to extract electricity from the collected heat and  using special high-speed electrical circuitry. This team also partners with Dennis Slafer of MicroContinuum, Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., to immediately port laboratory bench-scale technologies into manufacturable devices that can be inexpensively mass-produced.
"Our overall goal is to collect and utilize as much solar energy as is theoretically possible and bring it to the commercial market in an inexpensive package that is accessible to everyone," Pinhero said. "If successful, this product will put us orders of magnitudes ahead of the current solar energy technologies we have available to us today."
As part of a rollout plan, the team is securing funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and private investors. The second phase features an energy-harvesting device for existing industrial infrastructure, including heat-process factories and solar farms.
Within five years, the research team believes they will have a product that complements conventional PV 
Here is something I predicted, here, at this blog, some time earlier and that is so exciting and holds so much promise:
Because it's a flexible film, Pinhero believes it could be incorporated into roof shingle products, or be custom-made to power vehicles.
Once the funding is secure, Pinhero envisions several commercial product spin-offs, including infrared (IR) detection. These include improved contraband-identifying products for airports and the military, optical computing, and infrared line-of-sight telecommunications.
A study on the design and manufacturing process was published in the Journal of Solar Energy Engineering.
I'm telling you, folks, we're already getting much, much closer to being able to have solar energy that is extremely affordable and totally clean.
And we will gain the benefits of being able to virtually completely, if not completely, do away with power plants and electrical utility companies.

This makes the likelihood of our own houses and office buildings and even cars, generating their own very clean and green, renewable energy, far more possible and likely.
Now, just please don't say three things:
1)  Solar power isn't practical or likely even in the long-run, let alone in the short term;
2)  All our schools suck or 
3)  That we don't need at least some government and/or that government serves no or not enough positive function in our society.

And enjoy that beautiful sunshine out there today, folks.

Additional link: http://climateprogress.org/2011/05/17/news-japanese-officials-concealed-nuke-dangers-renewable-resources-soar-solar-nantenna-can-capture-95-of-light/#more-49322

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