Cameron Scott

Canadian Researchers Move Closer to Affordable, Efficient Solar Power

by , 04/22/10

sustainable design, green design, renewable energy, solar power, solar panels, solar cells, solar technology, dye-sensitized solar cells, marsan, platinum

Enough solar energy hits the Earth in an hour to meet global power demand for an entire year: the trick is catching it, and doing it with equipment cheap enough to allow it to compete with fossil fuels. Researchers at the University of Quebec in Montreal have made progress on both those fronts by improving on the promising technology of dye-sensitized solar cells. This type of solar cell is easier to manufacture and has a lower cost per watt of energy than the photovoltaic array you might see on your neighbor’s roof. It’s also – at least theoretically – more versatile.

sustainable design, green design, renewable energy, solar power, solar panels, solar cells, solar technology, dye-sensitized solar cells, marsan, platinum

The trouble is that dye-sensitized cells rely on cathodes that are covered in platinum — which, as your credit card company will tell you, ain’t cheap. Others have tried and failed to find a functional substitute for platinum, but the Canadian researchers, led by Benoît Marsan, have found that cobalt sulfide is not only cheaper but also more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. Marsan’s team also looked to improve the dye – another major focus of solar R&D. They were able to substitute a transparent gel which, they say, is more efficient and longer-lasting.

In the big picture, all of these improvements move toward a single goal: making it affordable for average Joes and Janes to install and use solar arrays.

Via ScienceDaily

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2 Comments

  1. Solar Cells Made From B... September 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    [...] GFP-powered cells work like dye-sensitized solar cells, but don’t require expensive materials such as titanium [...]

  2. manny April 26, 2010 at 6:06 am

    It’s a great exciting time to be a green designer or engineer, because there are excellent opportunities for exposure. The next 10 years will be crucial for entrepreneurs and their green ideas. It will be a period when we see the biggest change – making the planet’s resources more sustainable

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