The sheet of paper looks like any other document that might have just come spitting out of an office printer, with an array of colored rectangles printed over much of its surface. But then a researcher picks it up, clips a couple of wires to one end, and shines a light on the paper. Instantly an LCD clock display at the other end of the wires starts to display the time.
Almost as cheaply and easily as printing a photo on your inkjet, an inexpensive, simple solar cell has been created on that flimsy sheet, formed from special “inks” deposited on the paper. You can even fold it up to slip into a pocket, then unfold it and watch it generating electricity again in the sunlight. [via]
Foldable array of solar cells printed on a sheet of paper - [Link]
Traditional solar cell production techniques are usually time consuming and require expensive vacuum systems or toxic chemicals. Depositing chemical compounds such as CIGS on a substrate using vapor phase deposition also wastes most of the expensive material in the process. For the first time, engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have now developed a process to create “CIGS” solar cells with inkjet printing technology that allows for precise patterning to reduce raw material waste by 90 percent and significantly lower the cost of producing solar cells with promising, yet expensive compounds.
Researchers cut waste and lower cost of ‘CIGS’ solar cells using inkjet printing technology - [Link]
2 Watt Solar Panel Powers Bike Sharing @ Voltaic Systems – [via]
Social Bicycles released their revamped design for their bike sharing platform. It is a “GPS-enabled bike that you can find and unlock using your mobile phone.” What we like about it is that it enables companies, organizations and institutions of any size to easily create and manage their own bike share program. We think it also provides a great user experience.
The GPS locator and lock are powered by a battery system which is in turn powered by a dynamo and our 2 Watt solar panel. i.e. if the bike isn’t in motion for several days, the battery is going to stay powered up and transmitting its location.
2 Watt Solar Panel Powers Bike Sharing – [Link]
Boeing-Spectrolab has developed a solar cell that can convert almost 41 percent of the sunlight that strikes it into electricity, the latest step in trying to drop the cost of solar power.
Potentially, the solar cell could bring the cost of solar power down to around $3 a watt, after installation costs and other expenses are factored in, over the life of the panel. The new cost information comes from Boeing, whose Spectrolab unit supplies searchlights and solar simulators, and the Department of Energy, which sponsored the project. Current silicon solar cells provide electricity at about $8 a watt, before government rebates. The goal is to bring it to $1 a watt without rebates or incentives.
Solar cell breaks efficiency record – [Link]
National Semiconductor Corp. has launched the SolarMagic arc detection reference design, consisting of analogue front end ICs and multi-band dynamic filtering (MBDF) firmware, which the company claims is the first commercially available solution for detecting arcs in solar power systems.
Intermittent connections or insulation faults in solar power systems can cause arcing in high-power DC circuits. With temperatures of 3,000 °C or more, these arcs pose safety risks to surrounding infrastructure and personnel. The U.S. National Electrical Code (NEC) 690.11 requires all new solar power installations to include an arc-fault detection and protection system. National Semiconductor’s new SolarMagic arc detection reference design detects arc fault conditions and provides an alert to allow the system to be shut down in order to quench the arc. [via]
Chipset and firmware detect arcs in solar power systems - [Link]
Very cool project, Jeff writes – [via]
We met Chris Jefferies a few weeks back at Maker Faire. Turns out he is using our small solar panels to do something we’ve been interested in for a while. Chris is building wireless sensor networks using open source software and hardware that could be used in a variety of applications like air quality or home energy monitoring. It looks like he was inspired by Tweetawatt and is using xBee and ASUS wifi for communication in conjunction with Pachube for data display.
Solar Powered Wireless Sensor Networks - [Link]
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have successfully coated paper with a solar cell, part of a suite of research projects aimed at energy breakthroughs.
Susan Hockfield, MIT’s president, and Paolo Scaroni, CEO of Italian oil company Eni, on Tuesday officially dedicated the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Research Center. Eni invested $5 million into the center, which is also receiving a $2 million National Science Foundation grant, said Vladimir Bulovic, the center’s director.
The printed solar cells, which Bulovic showed at a press conference Tuesday, are still in the research phase and are years from being commercialized.
However, the technique, in which paper is coated with organic semiconductor material using a process similar to an inkjet printer, is a promising way to lower the weight of solar panels. “If you could use a staple gun to install a solar panel, there could be a lot of value,” Bulovic said.
MIT researchers print solar cell on paper – [Link]
Building your own commercial-grade daisy chained solar array has never been easier. Check out this step-by-step video from our friends at Parallax and learn how you can build your own 30 watt solar power station with the Parallax 33000.
Build Your Own 30 Watt Solar Panel - [Link]
Unitronic is planning to present a wireless solar-powered sensor module for the continuous monitoring of carbon monoxide (CO) concentration in buildings and in industrial applications at the upcoming SENSOR+TEST 2011 in Nuremberg, Germany.
The core of the Unitronic Solar CO Sensor Module (USCSM) is an innovative electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor with a standard AA battery form factor, developed by Figaro, which meets the specifications of EN 50291 and VDI 2053, and a STM 300 programmable, bidirectional wireless sensor module for 315/868 MHz from EnOcean. [via]
Wireless solar-powered sensor monitors carbon monoxide levels - [Link]
Phil Gonski, Christine Placek writes:
We propose to build a solar battery charger that will charge a variety of batteries: NiMH, NiCd, Li-ion, lead acid. Although there are solar battery chargers on the market, most are only for one application: cell phone, NiMH batteries, etc. Our charger will have the user input the battery type, capacity, and voltage. It will display the charge status and incorporate various safety systems, including temperature monitoring and battery polarity checking.
Solar Powered Battery Charger - [Link]