Great Way To Get More Efficient Solar Power For Batteries

Guest posted by Sophia.

University of southern California researchers suggest us a more productive use of graphene solar panels.

Can you imagine people powering their cell phone or music/video device while jogging under the sun?

A University of Southern California team has produced flexible transparent carbon atom films that may have great potential for a brand new variety of solar cells.

In a paper recently published in the journal ACS Nano, researchers stated that organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells have been proposed as a method to get low price energy due to their ease of manufacture, lightweight, and compatibility with flexible substrates.

This work shows that graphene, a highly conductive and highly transparent type of carbon made up of atoms-thick sheets of carbon atoms, has high potential to fill this role.

While graphene’s existence has been known for many years, it has only been studied extensively since 2004 due to the impossibility of manufacturing it in high quality and quantity.

The University of southern California team has produced graphene/polymer sheets ranging in sizes nearly 150 square centimeters that in turn can be used to create dense arrays of flexible organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells.

These organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices convert solar radiation to electricity, but not as efficiently as silicon cells.

The energy provided by sunlight on a sunny day is around 1,000 watts per meter square, for every 1,000 watts of sunlight that hits a square meter part of the standard silicon solar cell, 14 watts of electricity will be generated, Organic solar cells are less efficient; their conversion rate for that same 1,000 watts of sunlight in the graphene-based solar cell would be only 1.3 watts.

But what graphene organic photovoltaic (OPV) lack in efficiency, can potentially be compensated by its lower price and, greater physical flexibility.

Researchers think it may eventually be possible to cover with inexpensive solar cell layers extensive areas like newspapers, magazines or power generating clothing.

In the meanwhile Prof. Ruoff and his colleagues of the mechanical engineering department at the University of Texas at Austin, are studying the basic science in the development of graphene-based ultracapacitors for use in electronics and various fields.

Prof. Ruoff says batteries are relatively slow, they can store energy but take time to charge up, and then they distribute energy slowly, in time.

Ultracapacitors can be charged very quickly, in seconds, and discharge in a short time, but, today, they can’t store very much electrical energy.

The development of stable and less expensive ultracapacitors should be a key step in using wind or solar-generated power, especially if researchers will find ways to enable capacitors to store energy longer, that is not yet possible.

Even with their current storage capacity, the graphene devices could provide quick energy when needed in certain situations on the eco-friendly way.

They can be used, as an example, to absorb heat generated in braking an automobile or train, and store it for a short time, and then use it for the electrical needs of the vehicle (i.e. starting the vehicle or acceleration)

About the Author – Sophia H. Walker writes for the  solar powered battery charger blog, her personal hobby website focused entirely on tips to help individuals save energy using solar powered energy for small devices.