Designer Seongyong Lee recently blew us away with her beautiful design for a Solar Balloon that can collect energy straight from the sky. Based on the idea that the most efficient way to collect solar energy is from high above the earth, the balloon features a new breed of colorful dye-sensitized solar cells and is easily able to clear blocking structures such as buildings or trees.
Seongyong Lee’s Solar Balloon is composed of a fluid interweaving of colorful dye solar cell panels combined with an unknown white material whose panels pivot downward. LED lights are attached along the joints where the white and colored dye-solar cell panels come together, highlighting the twisting curves around the balloon’s form. To optimize the gathering of energy from the sun, the dye-solar panels direct upward while the white panels face back down to earth.
The collected energy is stored in a charger located in the base of the balloon. Energy collected in this model only lights the LEDs, however if it were produced to actual scale, the excess energy stored could provide enough power for many purposes including the operation of street lights. One may easily confuse this floating Balloon with a UFO, since it will be lighting the night sky with a unique and colorful pattern. Solar Balloon has a 7 meter diameter and is 10 meters in height. When grounded, the balloon’s base is 7 meters in height making the grounded height of the balloon a total of 17 meters tall.
The design is part of an international design workshop called Sunny Memories that was hosted by London’s Royal Academy of Art (RCA) to showcase innovative designs that incorporate a new type of dye-solar cells. Dye-sensitized solar cells are a relatively new class of low-cost photovoltaic cells that are easily manufactured into flexible, durable sheets. Although Lee’s Solar Balloon is intended to fly high and away from danger, just in case there are unforeseen obstacles these solar cells are a great choice since they are designed to withstand minor impacts such as tree strikes.