Scientists Invented An Improved Solar Panel That Can Catch A Lot More Heat
Renewable energy has become the main focus of our power needs in recent years. With green energy and solar technology becoming such a high focus, more efficient equipment is needed. Panels can absorb quite a bit of energy, but the problem is the amount of heat one is able to withstand.
The panels located at a power plant are very large and number in the dozens, sometimes hundreds. A solar panel works by absorbing the sun’s thermal energy and then focusing that into something called a heat exchanger.
Using something called ‘supercritical CO2,’ it acts as an energy converter. The hotter this liquid carbon dioxide gets, the greater the production of electricity.
According to Dorrin Jarrahbashi, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University, “supercritical CO2 energy cycles are only stable up to 550 degrees Celcius.” Any temperature higher than that, and the panel slowly loses energy-absorbing capabilities and eventually is replaced.
Scientists may have actually come up with a great solution to the problem. Using ceramic and tungsten, researchers created a new composite material that can withstand temperatures of 750 degrees Celsius and above.
The new level of heat absorption may even improve a solar panel’s ability to generate electricity by at least 20%. The new material will also help cut down on construction and maintenance costs.
“Using this material for manufacturing heat exchangers is an important step towards direct competition with fossil fuel power plants and a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” stated Jarrahbashi.
When the technology for solar panels first came out, many thought they cost more money than they were worth. In some cases they were right, but with the technology for them advancing, we may be able to lower our dependency on fossil fuels.
Some places in the United States have even mandated that solar panels be built on all new homes, saving money for future families that take up residence in them.
What do you think of solar panels? Are they our next wave of energy technology, or might we find something better?