Stanford’s Ultra-thin Solar Cell

Dean Sigler Announcements, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

We’ve noted here recently that early (and even current) examples of solar-powered aircraft suffered from the low efficiency of the panels that collected sunlight to power them.  The panels add weight, and so far, nobody’s flying with more than 29-percent efficiency.  What if a different approach, using ultra-thin solar cells covered the entire aircraft?  That’s the possibility with Stanford University’s “new, ultrathin photovoltaic materials.” Your Editor’s take on this is that 5.1-percent efficiency now offered by the Stanford solar cells could be applied by wrapping the entire plane, much like car customizers wrap high-end automobiles.  That’s occurred to researchers.  “Imagine an autonomous drone that powers itself with a solar array atop its wing that is 15 times thinner than a …

Photosynthesis Directly Makes Fuel

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

That’s what photosynthesis does in leaves – creates fuel in the form of plant sugars that flow into the plant to which the leaf is attached.  One of the main quibbles about trying to convert solar energy to usable fuel is the usual multi-step process involved.  Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have made a major advance in creating a solar cell that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) and uses sunlight to make a synthetic gas that can be burned as fuel. Scientists rarely use hyperbolic terms such as “extraordinary” in their findings.  According to Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC, “What we needed was a new family of chemicals with extraordinary properties.”  They …