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How much power is this?

0.1367 watts per square centimeter x 30% /4 (for ecological inefficiencies) = .0103 watts/cm^2 on a sunny day, that's how much.

A 1000m x 1000m array, even with the inefficiencies of ground-based solar power (clouds, oblique angle of sunlight, that little thing called nighttime), could generate 100 megawatts at that efficiency.

The rule of thumb is that 100,000 people need 50 megawatts.

The real advantage is in decentralization, however.

Five square meters would supply the needs of a typical American household...55 square feet, a 5'x 11' grid.

Alas, it's not quite good enough for solar-powered autos, but every two hours of charge would get you one hour of travel as speedy as you are accustomed to, good enough to supplement drawing off of city current..or paying for gasoline for your hybrid.

Originally posted to cskendrick on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:24 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Link please... (none)
    Can you please supply a link to this story?  
  •  80,000-volt gorilla in the room (none)
    The article discusses the integration of energy production and attire:

    The discovery could lead to shirts and sweaters capable of recharging our cellphones and other wireless devices, said Ted Sargent, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university.

    Which raises the possibility of a new wrinkle in personal security -- clothing that can shock assailants.

    "Don't touch!" means "Don't touch!"

    Beware the Frumious Coultersnatch :)

    by cskendrick on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:18:06 AM PST

  •  30% efficiency!!! That's great!! (none)
    Consuidering that current technology tops out at about 15%.

    There are a many ways that conduct to seeming honour, and some of them very dirty ones. John Webster The Duchess of Malfi Act V Scene II

    by GP on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:24:17 AM PST

  •  Great News! (none)
    But how long before it's quashed by the United States Of Halliburton, out of national security concerns?

    Political Capital Card... the card that cares for you, so you don't have to!

    by Dood Abides on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:24:23 AM PST

    •  Let them try. (none)
      The only interests harmed will be those of the United States.

      If that's worth HAL making a buck, then one supposes we will know where the Bushies' priorities are.

      Beware the Frumious Coultersnatch :)

      by cskendrick on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:41:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I (none)
      suppose it will only be a short time before one of the energy giants buy up the technology and price it out of range. We cannot have anything compete with our oil business.

      "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Thomas Jefferson

      by llih on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:22:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  30% is nothing new (none)
    There are actually several technologies that match the 30% in the lab, and some that come close in commercial application.  In comparing the material to the 6% of "plastic" solar cells, they've picked on of the older, most inefficient technologies.

    But hey, maybe this stuff is cheaper or clear to make than previous technologies, or maybe it's easier to implement on a broad scale.  I'm certainly not going to complain about a new choice in solar!  The average household in the U.S. gets about 200 watts/meter, so those of us not in sunny climes would need more material -- but still not unreasonable.

    •  It's plastic-based (none)
      And easily incorporated into a wide range of materials already in used, including fabrics.

      Imagine a baseball field tarp that not only protects against rain but provides electricity for the night lights, too.

      Such 'solar blankets' could be built into wide, open spaces that are currently all but wasted, say, parking lots (adjusting for shadows from cars), airport runways, clear-cut areas.

      Portable power plants!

      Beware the Frumious Coultersnatch :)

      by cskendrick on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:39:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't full sun insolation about 1kw/m^2 (none)
    so there's only 1000W/m^2
    or 1000W/(100cm*100cm),
    or 0.1 W/cm^2 to start with?  

    Getting 0.75 W/cm^2 would be an incredible 750% efficiency.

  •  Interesting that it works in infrared (none)
    The article mentions quantum dots, which suggests that the absorbed wavelength could be tuned wth precision, allowing layers of the material to capture different bands of radiation. Also potentially interesting is that a material that could be applied like paint, and produce useable electric current from infrared energy would be great at recovering energy lost as heat all over the place, from power plants to appliances to home heating.  In hot climes, such solar collectors could even produce energy at night.

    Where can I order some?

  •  Very nice (none)
    Current research using high-priced materials can get efficiencies upward of 35-40%, but aren't great for mass production.  Typical silicon will nab you 5-10%.

    Lawrence Livermore National Labs, by contrast, recently announced potential efficiencies of 50-70% using indium-based material.

    However, this discovery, if amenable to low-cost mass production, could be huge.

    •  Sorry; should be... (none)
      Lawrence Berkely National Lab :)

      The times, they are a-changin'.

      •  What an excellent choice of songs (none)
        Obi-Wan Bob Dylan, you're our only hope. :)

        Come gather 'round people
        Wherever you roam
        And admit that the waters
        Around you have grown
        And accept it that soon
        You'll be drenched to the bone.
        If your time to you
        Is worth savin'
        Then you better start swimmin'
        Or you'll sink like a stone
        For the times they are a-changin'.

        Come writers and critics
        Who prophesize with your pen
        And keep your eyes wide
        The chance won't come again
        And don't speak too soon
        For the wheel's still in spin
        And there's no tellin' who
        That it's namin'.
        For the loser now
        Will be later to win
        For the times they are a-changin'.

        Come senators, congressmen
        Please heed the call
        Don't stand in the doorway
        Don't block up the hall
        For he that gets hurt
        Will be he who has stalled
        There's a battle outside
        And it is ragin'.
        It'll soon shake your windows
        And rattle your walls
        For the times they are a-changin'.

        Come mothers and fathers
        Throughout the land
        And don't criticize
        What you can't understand
        Your sons and your daughters
        Are beyond your command
        Your old road is
        Rapidly agin'.
        Please get out of the new one
        If you can't lend your hand
        For the times they are a-changin'.

        The line it is drawn
        The curse it is cast
        The slow one now
        Will later be fast
        As the present now
        Will later be past
        The order is
        Rapidly fadin'.
        And the first one now
        Will later be last
        For the times they are a-changin'.

        Beware the Frumious Coultersnatch :)

        by cskendrick on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:04:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Second Law of T's (none)
      I was under the impression that the highest possible efficiency for a heat-based technology was 40%.

      Beware the Frumious Coultersnatch :)

      by cskendrick on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:01:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Solar is cool, but bikes are still more efficient! (none)
    Human muscle power is still far more efficient than any other power source according to scientists.  A bicycle, with a range of gear options can provide well over 90% efficiency.  Added to the omnivorous eating tendencies of the human species, this means that human power can be fueled from a vast variety of sources and in nearly any type of environment that supports life.

    Imagine if all that energy being expended in "exercise" programs and "workouts" was instead used for transportation, electricity generation, heating, product making, etc.

    You could get your "exercise" and actually be productive too, just like in the old times before we invented machines to do our work for us...

  •  Ecological inefficiencies? D'ya mean ... (none)
    ... environmental inefficiencies?

    Or are members of endangered species ground up to make this stuff?

    •  I mean (none)
      (1) it's day only half the tmie
      (2) it's sometimes cloudy during the day
      (3) sunlight comes in at an oblique angle most of the time, and that angle shifts over the course of the year

      That's what I mean. :)

      Beware the Frumious Coultersnatch :)

      by cskendrick on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:14:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  great news (none)
    i want to see a dance floor that's built on a hinge in the middle, connected to flywheels that turn a generator, so every time the dancers moved one side to tilt the floor, power would be generated to power the band and lights.
    sliding down the tilt would be fun too.
    i got the idea on a ferryboat during a storm, on a deserted dance floor, where sliding in socks over the whole dance floor while the ship was rocking was a blast.
  •  solar constant and abstract (none)
    The 136 mW/cm2 is the solar constant --the incident irradiation outside the atmosphere on a plane perpendicular to the sun's rays--that is, at high noon all the time and you have to be really tall.

    100 mW/cm2 is about the maximum surface value.

    And Watts are power not energy--i.e., lightning has enormous power but little energy, so your calculations assume an extra-atmospheric platform always pointed toward the sun.

    Ok for a crude ballpark, thanks.

    The abstract of the paper is here.   Unfortunately it is a Lead paint, which is banned in the states.

    Hal C.

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