Friday, December 23, 2011

Solar Paint: A Gift That Can Keep On Giving -- When It's Perfected

It has just been reported this week that researchers at the University of Notre Dame are developing a new type of solar cell that can simply be painted on to a surface.

The team has created a "power-producing nanoparticle" called a quantum dot, which can be combined with a spreadable paste that can then be painted onto any conductive surface. It requires no special equipment, making this solar paint an inexpensive alternative to traditional solar cells.

The technology isn't quite ready for commercial use yet — its efficiency is much less than traditional solar cells, at around one percent as opposed to the typical 10-15 percent.

Tata Steel is working with researchers at Swansea University to produce sheet steel treated with a sensitive coating of solar cells. According to Dr. Worsley, the project leader for the Swansea Solar Paint Project, if all the steel cladding produced by one manufacturer was energy generating, it would be the equivalent of 50 wind farms (or 4500 gigawatts/year) at an efficiency rate of 5%.

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