Every kid in this country ought to be taught to build a kit like this one.
Hear! Hear! Furthermore, they should be taught about recycling AS they learn how to put the components together so they develop a sustainable mindset.
That said, the innovation and technology is moving at such a blinding speed right now with windows, walls, roof shingles and even 'paint on PV', well past proof of concept and into the economics of investment and scaling up production stage, that in very short order we will be generating electricity from our walls, windows, car paint, flashlight housings and even power tools with large surface areas like an electric lawn mower.
How Spray-on Solar Panels Workhttp://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-tech/sustainable/spray-on-solar-panel3.htmHere's some up to date info on the latest PV applications.New Energy Technologies is developing the first-of-its kind SolarWindow™ technology, which enables see-through windows to generate electricity by ‘spraying’ their glass surfaces with New Energy’s electricity-generating coatings – the subject of twenty-one (21) patent filings.
Renewable energy sources are a hot topic lately and solar energy may be the hottest -- literally and figuratively. Solar energy is the energy provided by the sun's rays, and when harnessed, it can be turned into electricity and heat. It's plentiful, clean and renewable.
Solar cell manufacturers and suppliers believe photovoltaic (PV) technology will produce 15 percent of the energy the United States will consume in 2020 [source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory]. Solar power is growing in popularity around the world: In Japan, homes generated roughly 80 percent of the total 1.9 million kilowatts of solar energy produced in the fiscal year ending March 2008. Japan aims to increase its solar power output by 40 percent by 2030 [source: Hall]. Also by 2030, the United States' National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) has set the goal of using solar energy to supply 10 percent of the nation's power during peak generating times, as well as supply solar energy to foreign markets [source: Malsch].
It seems easy enough -- there's plenty of sunlight. In fact, the sun provides the Earth with enough solar energy in one hour (4.3 x 1020 joules) to power all of our energy needs for one year (4.1 x 1020 joules) [source: Biello]. But the dilemma over the years has been how to harness that solar energy and put it to use.
Traditional solar panels, the kind you see on rooftops, are crystalline silicon PV arrays -- solar panels that are made up of a collection of solar cells. More recently, thin-film solar technology has become the darling of the solar industry. Thin-film solar cells are made with CIGS (CuIn1-x Gax Se2) technology, and unlike the rigid panels, they're flexible and can be used in places other than rooftops (on windows, sides of buildings, cars, computers, etc.).
Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) are working in collaboration with solar company Spark Solar Australia and Finnish materials company BraggOne Oy to transform how we think about and use solar power over the next three years. Affordable, abundant solar technology is coming soon to you.
Current commercial photovoltaic (PV) solar technologies rely on solar cells that are made of silicon that's been coated with a thin layer of silicon nitrate (the silicon nitrate works as an anti-reflective material to increase the cell's sunlight collecting efficiency). They're costly to manufacture for two reasons: They use hydrogen plasma to collect sunlight and they are made in a vacuum. Thin-film PV cells use cheaper materials but are more complex to make -- and despite the cheaper materials, the production complexity equals a more expensive end product.
Enter the spray-on solar material project. Researchers are experimenting with ways to change how solar cells are manufactured, as well as how to increase solar cell efficiency.
Phase one of their project is an effort to bring down both the complexity of the manufacturing process and the associated high cost. Their new method involves spraying solar panels as they roll down a conveyor belt during production, first with a hydrogen film and then an anti-reflective film.
Solar cells are made from semi-conducting nanoparticles called quantum dots. These quantum dots are mixed with a conducting polymer to make a plastic. Spray-on solar panels composed of this material can be manufactured to be lighter, stronger, cleaner and generally less expensive than most other solar cells in production today. They are the first solar cells able to collect not only visible light but infrared waves, too.
Phase two of the ANU project, in collaboration with the German solar company GP Solar, will study ways of increasing the efficiency of the cells. Researchers are exploring how the surface of a solar cell (specifically, it's roughness) affects its ability to collect solar energy. Right now, the efficiency rate of solar cells on the market is about 15 percent. By comparison, the first solar cells manufactured in the 1950s converted less than 4 percent of collected solar energy into usable power [source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory]. Scientists predict they may be able to increase that rate by five times the current numbers [source: Locgren].
Solar panel efficiency, fabrication technology and manufacturing engineering are important not only in the solar industry but to you, the consumer. New technology and inexpensive materials and production mean more practical, every day applications.
Currently, applications of traditional commercial PV solar panels and solar-energy systems are out of range for most of us, aside from affixing rigid solar panels to the rooftops of our homes. PV technology is used to power spacecraft, to bring electricity into remote villages in developing countries and to power remote buildings (or anything that requires electricity, really).
Thin-film PV technologies have been on the market for about 15 years or so and are the solar technology most of us have come in contact with. Where? If you've ever used a solar-powered calculator, you've experienced the power of thin-film solar cells. Its flexible nature allows it to go places where traditional panels can't, including into private homes and electronic devices, but it's also used in similar energy-producing ways on buildings and in remote locations.
Spray-on solar panels will be sold as a hydrogen film that can be applied as a coating to materials -- potentially everything from a small electronic device to a new way to power an electric car's battery. Similar to the solar technology of today, spray-on panels could be incorporated into buildings themselves, not just rooftops. One day you may buy clothing with solar film woven into the fabric.
The rest of this article, while informative, is pre-2011:
SolarWindow™ generates clean electricity on see-through glass windows, by making use of the energy of natural sunlight and artificial sources such as fluorescent and LED lighting typically installed in offices, schools, and commercial buildings. Under an exclusive world-wide licensing agreement with the University of South Florida, together with a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy—National Renewable Energy Laboratory, covering twenty one(21) patent applications, we currently have six product development goals for our SolarWindow™ technology:
◦SolarWindow™- Commercial – A flat glass product for installation in new commercial towers under construction and replacement windows;
◦SolarWindow™-Structural Glass – Structural glass walls and curtains for tall structures;
◦SolarWindow™-Architectural Glass – Textured and decorative interior glass walls, room dividers, etc.
◦SolarWindow™-Residential – A window glass for installation in new residential homes under construction and replacement windows;
◦SolarWindow™-Flex – Flexible films which may be applied directly on to glass, similar to aftermarket window tint films, for retrofit to existing commercial towers, buildings, and residential homes; and
◦SolarWindow™-BIPV – Building product components associated with building-integrated-photovoltaic (―BIPV‖) applications in homes, buildings, and office towers. How do we generate electricity on see-through glass for commercial application in homes, offices, and commercial buildings?
New Energy’s solution is unique to our SolarWindow™ coatings, which:
◦Make use of the world’s smallest functional organic solar cells, which measure less than ¼ the size of a grain of rice, and have been shown to successfully produce electricity in a published peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy of the American Institute of Physics;
◦Are sprayed on to see-through glass using a novel, patent-pending process presented in AZoNano’s (peer-reviewed, Journal of Nanotechnology Online; Dec. 20, 2009), “Nanotechnology Thought Leaders” series;
◦Do not require expensive high-temperature or high-vacuum production methods, but rather, can be sprayed on to glass at room temperature;
◦Generate electricity from both natural and artificial light sources, outperforming today’s commercial solar and thin-film technologies by as much as 10-fold; and
◦Measure less than 1/10th the thickness of ‘thin’ films (only 1/1000th the thickness of human hair).
Our SolarWindow™ technology — capable of generating electricity on see-through glass windows — is under development for potential application in the estimated 5 million commercial buildings in America (Energy Information Administration) and more than 80 million single detached homes.SolarWindow™ Electricity Value Estimates*
Technology Annual Value of
Copper Indium Gallium DiSelenide (CIGS) Solar Thin Film $ 19,260.10
Cadmium Telluride Solar Cell Thin Film $ 16,897.36
Triple Junction Amorphous Silicon Thin Film $ 11,334.44
(Basis: R&D Measured 08/06/10) $ 29,354.26
(Basis: Advancement of Lab Prototype) $ 48,923.84
(Increased Power, Improved Cell Configuration) $ 81,539.74
(Basis: Max. High-Power Theoretical) $ 153,729.59
* Modeled power production and economic estimates are calculated using the Company’s proprietary model which has been verified by independent consultants and agencies. Calculated projections, estimates or actual results may vary significantly from modeled power and economic estimates if any modeling parameter changes. First-Of-Its-Kind Organic Solar Array
Our SolarWindow™ technology utilizes an organic solar array composed of a series of ultra-small solar cells measuring less than ¼ the size of a grain of rice each. They are fabricated using environmentally-friendly hydrogen-carbon based materials, and successfully produce electricity, as demonstrated in a published peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy of the American Institute of Physics.
New Energy’s organic solar array has:
◦The same desirable electrical properties as silicon, yet boasts a considerably better capacity to ‘optically absorb’ photons from light to generate electricity, and achieves transparency through the innovative use of conducting polymers;
◦Superior optical absorption properties inherent to New Energy’s ultra-small solar cells, enabling development of an ultra-thin film, only 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair, or 1/10th of a micrometer; and
◦A key advantage over conventional thin films which are exponentially thicker, measuring several micrometers thick, thus inhibiting transparency.The ‘Organic’ Edge;
Our ‘Ultra-Small’ Solar Cells Deliver Big Advantages
Organic solar cells, or organic photovoltaics (OPV) have received the attention of the solar energy community as a promising low-cost alternative to typical PV (photovoltaic) solar cells used in today’s solar industry to harness the sun’s energy for renewable electricity.
Solar cells that are currently available are largely made of silicon wafers, an expensive and brittle material that can limit their commercial usability. Other newer generation, lower-cost, flexible thin film solar materials such as amorphous silicon, copper-indium-gallium-selenide, and cadmium telluride, often require high-vacuum and high-temperature production techniques, and are many times thicker than New Energy’s ultra-small solar cells. This generally limits the application of such thin films primarily to stainless steel, an expensive substrate material with limited prospects of delivering transparency.
New Energy’s SolarWindow™ technology makes use of ultra-small organic solar cells, which:
◦Allow for the fabrication of transparent solar arrays on a broad range of substrate materials such as glass, plastic, and even paper;
◦Are made of natural polymers which can be dissolved into liquid for easy application that does not require expensive and complicated high-temperature or high-vacuum production techniques common to other solar coatings; and
◦Organic solar cells can be manufactured in a variety of ways, including screen printing, ink-jet printing and spraying.Our Unique Ability to ‘Spray’ Solar Cells Onto Glass;
A Low-Cost, High-Speed Solution
In January 2010, scientists developing New Energy’s SolarWindow™ unveiled a novel, patent-pending process for ‘spraying’ solar cells and their related components onto glass – a technical achievement presented in AZoNano’s (peer-reviewed, Journal of Nanotechnology Online; Dec. 20, 2009), “Nanotechnology Thought Leaders” series.
Once scaled-up for use in commercial-scale production, researchers anticipate the ability to spray solar coatings directly onto New Energy’s first-of-its-kind see-through SolarWindow™, currently under development, could provide significant commercial production advantages over today’s thin-films.
Conventional solar films are typically manufactured using expensive and slow manufacturing methods which rely on high-temperature and finicky ‘vacuum deposition’ processes for depositing solar materials onto substrates; the resultant products are simply too thick to allow for transparency, an important consideration in the development of a commercially viable solar-powered glass window.Recent Breakthroughs
July 17, 2013 – New Energy announced that we have successfully achieved a total of 21 new patent filings for protection of its proprietary SolarWindow™ technology, more than doubling the portfolio in only 12 months.
July 15, 2013 – New Energy released a new introduction sketch video to SolarWindow™ technology.
June 4, 2013 – New Energy announced advancements in our design, architecture, and transparency goals for our electricity-generating coatings.
May 09, 2013 – New Energy announced a breakthrough in our spray-on fabrication techniques with USF.
April 30, 2013 -New Energy’s VP of Business and Technology Development was accepted to present an overview of SolarWindow™ at the Advanced Energy 2013 Conference in New York, NY.
April 3, 2013 -New Energy’s Principal Scientist, Dr. Scott Hammond, presented on OPV research at the 2013 MRS Spring Meeting.
March 6, 2013 -New Energy announced that we entered in a Phase 2 CRADA with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to advance SolarWindow™ technology.
June 18, 2012 -New Energy announced an improvement in its manufacturing technique that should lead to higher speed, lower costs and greater durability.http://www.newenergytechnologiesinc.com/technology/solarwindow