Gallery: MIT’s Solar Funnel Concentrates Solar Energy 100 Times

 

A group of chemical engineers at MIT have devised a way to collect solar energy 100 times more concentrated than a traditional photovoltaic cell. If their ‘solar funnel’ venture proves to be a success, it could drastically alter how solar energy is collected in the future — there will no longer be a need for massive solar arrays or extensive space to generate significant and sufficient amounts of power. The engineers’ research has determined that carbon nanotubes — hollow tubes made up of carbon atoms — will be the primary instrument in capturing and focusing light energy, allowing for not just smaller, but more powerful solar arrays.

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3 Comments

  1. StevenNia January 2, 2012 at 3:26 am

    I fully agree with the eboireau’s comments. SolarDon takes a narrow view of what solar concentration may be, and how it may be achieved. Indeed efficient collection techniques, such as the one described here is exactly what the doctor has ordered for the incredibility high potential and amazingly under explored solar industry.

    I agree with SolarDon, however, regarding the high production costs of carbon nanotubes, at this stage. Just like any other advanced technology, once volume production starts, the costs miraculously go down, faster than anyone can imagine.

    Overall, I give this innovation team very high marks, for thinking out of the box, which is precisely what we need to bring solar energy into reality.

    NIA Energy – Steven Nia

  2. eboireau February 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    @SolarDon: the article do not said like you that light is concentrated, but that it “collect solar energy” ! The scientist leader was less exact saying “antennas…drive photons into them” !!

    In fact, it collect and concentrate energy converted from light into excitons. I find this remarkable, but I’m curious about the conversion yield and concentration level that can be achieved. Yet the price of nanotubes and manufacturing such solar device surely will be redihibitive for electric production. Nonetheless, this may be interesting for specific applications! nanotubes can be combined at microscale to surfaces or LEDS, where other solutions are not possible!

  3. SolarDon September 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    It may be nice to actually know a little bit about what you are reporting on!! Solar cells do not concentrate light. Typically there are optics the direct concentrated light to the solar cell like Sol Focus (www.solfocus.com) or Amonix (www.Amonix.com) or in the case of a Rainbow Concentrator will separate and concentrate the light like Sol Solution (www.sol-solution.net).

    Using carbon nanotubes in solar energy is so ridiculously expensive that it is laughable.

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