The Light at the End of the Funnel

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

In some exciting news that could make several quantum leaps in solar cell performance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have announced a hundred-fold increase in light gathering capabilities for solar cells. If a cell were able to exploit this increase, an aircraft such as the Solar Impulse could fly on 120 solar cells instead of the 12,000 now spread across its over 200-foot wingspan. We’ve reported on carpet-like light-capturing formats for increasing solar cell output, but the MIT approach funnels light down a multi-carbon nanotube filament, boosting the output of the “tiny” solar cell at the bottom. MIT’s press release explains the outcome. “’Instead of having your whole roof be a photovoltaic cell, you could have little spots that were …

Solar Impulse Overnighter: 26 Hours Nine Minutes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Andre’ Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, landed this morning at 9:00 a.m. (local tme) in Payerne, Switzerland, having completed the first-ever night flight on battery energy stored during the previous day through the craft’s solar cells.  Taking off at 6:51 a.m. July 7, Borschberg flew the 64-meter span, four-motor airplane in large patterns around the area, gaining altitude to a height of 8,564 meters (27,404 feet) above sea level and charging the batteries – all while running the motors at climb power. As night fell, he glided to preserve the stored power, ran the motors as needed to maintain altitude, and landed with a small reserve.  This successful demonstration of being able to run the motors on …

Solar Impulse All-Nighter July 1

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse is set to attempt its first night flight on Thursday, July 1, 2010. Weather conditions are “Favourable for attempting the first night flight on solar energy,” according to the Solar Impulse web site.   “The situation continues to look good and the likelihood of seeing the HB-SIA take off on July 1st and land back in the early morning 2nd July is increasingly probable.” The Solar Impulse team will confirm the date 24 hours before take-off time.  Only accredited journalists will be allowed on-site to witness the event, so don’t head for the Payerne, Switzerland airbase, but follow the flights on the Internet at the project’s special Night Flight web page at www.solarimpulse.com. These flights are crucial to the ongoing aim of …

Shaping Plastics into Inexpensive Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

Dr. Yeuh-Lin Loo, an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering, has led a team of Princeton, University of Texas – Austin, Pennsylvania State University, University of California – Santa Barbara, and Dupont researchers in developing a conductive plastic that takes the place of expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) used in solar cells, flat-screen TVs, and other electronic devices with display screens.  ITO, a byproduct of mining, is rare and expensive, but a necessity in today’s electronics.  An inexpensive substitute would be desirable in bringing costs down and removing pressure from the growing demand for ITO.  Loo comments on this in the Princeton press release.  “The cost of indium tin oxide is skyrocketing.  To bring down the costs of plastic solar cells, …

Big Nano

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

A solar cell manufacturer that boasts of 100 times thinner panels than current silicon solar cells, and production rates 100 times faster than with the methods usually employed in the industry will definitely catch our attention.   Nanosolar, of San Jose, California, makes a CIGS-based solar film claimed to be thinner and much less expenive (ultra-low cost, according to Nanosolar) than silicon-based panels.  CIGS stands for copper/indium/gallium/selenium, the primary components of the new film.  Coated onto a thin aluminum substrate, the CIGS ink is literally printed on, the nanoparticles providing a demonstrated efficiency of up to 16.4-percent, verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  Initial production runs are producing panels of at least 11-percent efficiency.  While currently only half as efficient as the best production silicon solar cells, the high-speed manufacturing …

And Now For Something Completely Different

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

Tolstoy, in War and Peace, wrote that, “Among the innumerable subdivisions that can be made in the phenomena of life, one can subdivide them all into those in which content predominates and those in which form predominates.” One group attempting to meld form and function is the Land Art Generator Initiative, a group attempting to “bring together artists, architects, scientists, and engineers in a first of its kind collaboration. The goal of the Land Art Generator Initiative is to design and construct a series of land art installations across the UAE that uniquely combine aesthetic intrigue with clean energy generation. The LAGI viewing platforms will be tourist destinations that draw people from around the world to experience the beauty of …