this could be huge if it actually works
An innovative solar panel technology could turn raindrops into electric power, according to scientists in China.
The new solar cell design, which can be “triggered” by both rain and sun, is described in a paper published in the Angewandte Chemie journal.
“All-weather solar cells are promising in solving the energy crisis,” explain the scientists from Ocean University of China and Yunnan Normal University, noting that the technology combines an electron-enriched graphene electrode with a dye-sensitized solar cell. “The new solar cell can be excited by incident light on sunny days and raindrops on rainy days,” they add.
Dye-sensitized solar cells are thin-film photovoltaic cells that harness organic dye to absorb sunlight and produce electrons, thereby creating energy.
The new technology could guide the design of advanced all-weather solar cells, according to the scientists.
The Science News Journal notes that, by using a thin layer of highly conductive graphene, the solar cell could effectively harness power from rain. “The salt contained in rain separates into ions (ammonium, calcium and sodium), making graphene and natural water a great combination for creating energy,” it reports. “The water actually clings to the graphene, forming a dual layer (AKA pseudocapacitor) with the graphene electrons. The energy difference between these layers is so strong that it generates electricity.”
21 Feb ’12
I want to see the cost vs electrical output of the cell, broken down over the average life of the cell its self. Currently, pretty much all solar panels wont pay for themselves over their lifetime, even with tax incentives. Once that barrier is crossed we should see a big shift towards renewables.
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