Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Aug 24

PETE Process Promises Successful Technology Fusion

Posted in Energy Inventions | Photovoltaic Cells | Solar Power

PETE Process A new joint venture research work at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, supported by Department of Energy and DARPA has come up with a new solar energy conversion process that can potentially double the efficiency of solar cells. Stanford engineers have discovered this new and totally different process to harvest energy from sun.

Way to make the cells more efficient:

The best way to increase the efficiency of the solar cells is to somehow harvest the wasted heat energy and to keep up and utilize the high temperatures which are reached during conversion. Utilizing the existing technology along with utilizing both the photovoltaic and thermal conversion techniques is what is needed.

Breakthrough process:

In the new process, the semiconducting material was coated with a thin layer of caesium which allowed the material to use both the light and heat of sun to generate electricity. Though this is not actually standardized photovoltaic mechanism happening, this is a photovoltaic-like response happening best at very high temperatures. The new process is called Photon enhanced thermionic emission (PETE).

Conceptual breakthrough:

Nick Melosh, Assistant Professor of Material Science & Engineering, leading the research group says, “This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak.” The new process is called ‘photon enhanced thermionic emission’ (PETE). This process is expected to reduce solar energy production cost competitively with oil.

Weakness harnessed as strength:

What is the weak point with most silicon cells – losing efficiency in higher temperatures – is the strong point of PETE process as the devices working with PETE process works best at temperatures as high as 800 degree Celsius. The PETE device utilizes the light and high temperatures produced are usable and dumped in the thermal conversion process.

Peaking efficiency:

PETE process has the potential to almost triple the existing system efficiency as demonstrated in solar farms in Mojave Desert in Southern California. Melosh says, “PETE process has two really big benefits in energy production over normal technology.”

Affordable process:

The tam claims that PETE process needs economical and easily available materials only – making thus the power harvested via this process very affordable. The conversion into PETE process is also relatively inexpensive as they are being designed to be bolted to present structures.

Research team goal:

The research team published their paper in ‘Nature Materials‘ after demonstrating the process successfully. The team is experimenting on various semiconductors like gallium nitride and gallium arsenide and other such materials. Even a 10 % boost to the existing solar efficiency is a 50% overall hike and very welcome for solar cell power generation.

  • Jos Conil

    This is an amazing breakthrough.

    Any new development in enhanced solar power conversion is great news as the amount of solar radiation that we receive a year is more than 7000 times the global annual power requirement.

    I extend my best wishes and congratulations to the research team and hope that this technology can enhance the use of clean power.

  • Luis Linares

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, this sounds great but, how come they say the process only needs economical materials when they need to use caesium? Or was that only the proof-of-concept?

  • Dick Kane

    Discoveries, improvements, refinements and all-around progress is occurring at such an accelerated rate! It seems that before a process or material is manufactured, it is obsolete. This, to me, begs the question, “Why buy an item now when better and best is yet to come?”

  • Rojelio

    Why buy now? we desperately need early adapters to pave the way. I’m fully confident that my pole tracking 2kW PV system that I could barely afford the $15,000 for will be obsolete very soon. Maybe even some of my neighbors who think I’m wacky will be purchasing more efficient systems for half the price in the near future. But I don’t regret it because at least it looks cool and follows the sun.

  • Rojelio

    Buying now helps speed innovations.

  • Bruce Bremer

    “A thin film of caesium…” I hope it’s very thin; the first place I could find a quote was for caesium chromate and it sells at a discount for 119 English pounds for 100 gr. That amounts to $184 for the batch.

    However, if you can get the price down through economies of scale, then you might be able to make it affordable.

  • Alex

    When more people buy it, production becomes cheaper in the long run. Buying it now is what everyone should be doing. Cars are expensive and useful, thats why we buy them. Solar technology is also expensive, but im sure we need it more than cars…

  • Ann

    Actually it is exciting news for us as an information company in PV industry. And I think breakthroughs would always seem so cool and encouraging for human beings. Because that leads to a more sustainable energy use time. That must be a great time in history.

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