"Designer carbon" boosts battery performance

Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ.:  Stanford Univ. scientists have created a new carbon material that significantly boosts the performance of energy-storage technologies. Their results are featured in ACS Central Science. "We have developed a 'designer carbon' that is both versatile and controllable," said Zhenan Bao, the senior author of the study and a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. "Our study shows that this material has exceptional energy-storage capacity, enabling unprecedented performance in lithium-sulfur batteries and supercapacitors." According to Bao, the new designer carbon represents a dramatic improvement over conventional activated carbon, an inexpensive material widely used in products ranging from water filters and air deodorizers to energy-storage devices. "A lot of cheap activated carbon is made from coconut shells," Bao said. "To activate the carbon, manufacturers burn the coconut at high temperatures and then chemically treat it." The activation process creates nanosized holes, or pores, that increase the surface area of the carbon, allowing it to catalyze more chemical reactions and store more electrical charges.

Berkeley lab unveils new solar energy center aimed at producing fuel from sunlight

Jeremy Thomas for Inside Bay Area News:  In a christening hailed as a key moment in the effort to harness the sun's energy to create fuel, Lawrence Berkeley Lab officials on Tuesday unveiled a $59 million Solar Energy Research Center. Named after former Energy Department Secretary and Lab Director Steven Chu, the 40,000-square-foot Chu Hall will be a place of world-changing research in producing cheaper, more efficient renewable energy to replace fossil fuels, said Chu, who was honored for inspiring the mission. "This is one of the most important problems that science, technology and innovation really need to solve," Chu said. "It's a very big deal. ... We simply need to save the world, and it's going to be science that's going to be at the heart of that solution." The facility will be home to the Berkeley hub of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, a Department of Energy-funded collaboration led by the California Institute of Technology that is attempting to create solar fuel as plants do by using sunlight and other catalysts to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas and convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuels such as methanol and ethanol. The byproduct of producing such a fuel would be oxygen.

This cloudy-day black silicon solar cell can hit a record 22.1% efficiency

Researchers at Finland’s Aalto University have achieved a record-breaking 22.1% efficiency for a nanostructured silicon, or black, solar cell. They accomplished this by overlaying a thin, passivating film on the nanostructures by a process known as atomic layer deposition, and by integrating all of the metal contacts on the cell’s back side. Perhaps the best part: Black solar cells work really well on cloudy days. “This is an advantage particularly in the north, where the sun shines from a low angle for a large part of the year,” said professor Hele Savin from Aalto University, who coordinated the study, in a statement. “We have demonstrated that in winter Helsinki, black cells generate considerably more electricity than traditional cells, even though both cells have identical efficiency values.” Using the aforementioned process, the team managed to beat their previous record by almost 4%, which is a stunning achievement. The new cells have a certified external quantum efficiency of 96% at 300nm wavelengths, which the team said shows that charged carrier surface recombination is no longer a problem — and that for the first time, the black silicon isn’t limiting energy conversion efficiency. And thanks to the inherent properties of black solar cells, they can capture solar radiation at low angles, generating more electricity over the full duration of a day as compared with traditional cells.

Monarch Power Granted Patent for Solar Powered Turbine

CEO And Professor Invents Off-Grid Solar Thermal Personal Energy

GE Launches the Next Evolution of Wind Energy Making Renewables More Efficient, Economic: the Digital Wind Farm

Industrial Brawn Meets Software Brains as GE Harnesses the Industrial Internet to Build the World's Most Efficient Wind Farm---- Use of Sensors, Data Networks and Analytics Create Turbines that Are Customized for Peak Efficiency of up to 20 Percent More in Annual Energy Production---- Combined Technology Could Deliver up to an Estimated $50 Billion in Value Across the Wind Industry1 if Applied to All 50 Gigawatts of Wind Being Installed this Year

Solar road in the Netherlands producing more energy than anticipated

A road made of solar panel material is producing more energy than the creators expected. Engineers created a solar power bike path near Amsterdam that is over 200 feet long last year, and the road generated over 3,000kwh during the first six months, according to Al Jazeera, enough energy to power a house for a year. The company that created the road, SolaRoad, claims that means the road can produce 70kwh per square meter per year. The road is made of solar panels, glass, rubber and concrete. The road can either power street lamps or add power to the general grid. Over 150,000 cyclists have ridden on bike path without a problem since the project began. The path is made to be non-reflective and to prevent skidding. SolaRoad is still refining its materials to make them even more weather proof and efficient, and the company hopes to expand to larger areas in the future.

Engineering a better solar cell: UW research pinpoints defects in popular perovskites

One of the fastest-growing areas of solar energy research is with materials called perovskites. These promising light harvesters could revolutionize the solar and electronics industries because they show potential to convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently and less expensively than today’s silicon-based semiconductors.   These superefficient crystal structures have taken the scientific community by storm in the past few years because they can be processed very inexpensively and can be used in applications ranging from solar cells to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) found in phones and computer monitors.   A new study published online April 30 in the journal Science by University of Washington and University of Oxford researchers demonstrates that perovskite materials, generally believed to be uniform in composition, actually contain flaws that can be engineered to improve solar devices even further.   Cont'd...

Swedish solar energy expert Midsummer receives multi million USD order for a DUO thin film solar cell manufacturing system

Swedish solar energy expert Midsummer, a leading provider of equipment for cost-effective manufacturing of flexible CIGS thin film solar cells, has received an order for its compact DUO solar cell manufacturing system to an undisclosed customer.

PV Nano Cell Enters U.S. Market with Innovative Solar Cell Printing Technology

Sicrys silver and copper nano-metric digital inks dramatically reduce costs and increase efficiencies in solar cell manufacturing

Spray-on Solar Cells - How do they Work?

Spray-on solar cells use nanotechnology. These cells are made using quantum dots, which is a nanocrystal composed of a semiconductor material that is small enough to take advantage of the laws of quantum mechanics.

What is helium-3?

Will China Be The First To Mine Lunar Energy?

Harvesting Energy From Heat

In the United States, more than half of the energy we burn each year gets lost as heat instead of being put to use with most of the energy going out the exhaust pipe of a car or out the smokestack of a power plant.

The Echogen Power Systems Heat Engine

Waste Heat to Power (WHP) creates electricity by heating a fluid at high pressure, then expanding the fluid through a turbine to power an electric generator.

HEMOS Technology

Essentially, we're giving the solar panel a brain; the patented HEMOS chipset can be fitted in a typical junction of any solar panel. With it you can communicate directly with the panel and execute commands at the module level.

Latest Studies Open New Doors in Solar Power Utilization

With constant innovations hitting the frontiers of solar power research, two recent studies provide a glimpse of new opportunities in way we are harnessing this source of energy.

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