Mechanical Engineers Create High-tech Solar Panels
Efforts are continuously on to make solar panels more efficient so that in future sunlight can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels. Researchers are putting tremendous effort to minimize the inadequacies of current solar panels. Both, Michael Jensen, Ph.D., a mechanical engineer and Anna Dyson, an architectural scientist from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, along with their team are trying to make solar systems in terms of power and heat nearly eighty percent efficient.
Conventional solar systems are around 15 percent efficient. Their photovoltaic designs contain strings of thin lenses that track the sun’s movement. Sunlight floods each lens and is focused onto a postage-stamp sized, high-tech solar cell. This way they will be able to capture sun’s energy and transform it into electricity and heat. Sensing the sunlight just like a sunflower and turning towards that light will enhance the efficiency of these high-tech solar cells.
Development of this radical new solar energy technology assures to collect and distribute solar energy more efficiently. A pile of spinning lenses can be integrated into a glass building. These lenses can track the movement of the sun across the sky, but all the time focusing its rays onto high-tech solar cells. The main breakthrough is this minuscule concentrator solar cell. Usual solar cell collector area occupies 4 x 4 feet space. But this postage stamp size collector is much more efficient in accumulating and using solar energy. Incorporating these new cells into arrays could make solar energy an option that is competitive with other energy sources, reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.
“We basically have a system that can sense where the sun is at any time, and then the modules will basically be facing directly perpendicular to the incoming sun rays,” Anna Dyson says. The lenses will be nestled between window panes and all of the pieces will be made of glass. This system will reduce the lighting needs of buildings during daytime as it will provide usable light inside and save the electricity cost. The system will be installed in the Center for Excellence and Environmental Energy Systems in Syracuse, New York, in 2008, and in the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City by 2009.