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Elements S4 • E91

Carbon Nanotubes Might Be the Secret Boost Solar Energy Has Been Looking For

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Published on Sep 16, 2019

One of the greatest challenges facing solar technology is wasted heat, but carbon nanotubes might be the high efficiency boost that solar cells need to succeed.
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Solar panels are an incredible innovation in energy tech, but the panels are way less efficient than they could be, because solar panels have a problem: heat.

More specifically, waste heat, or energy that’s lost while converting the sun’s energy into electricity.

But a new technology—made possible by carbon nanotubes—might be just the thing that takes solar panels to the next level when it comes to energy technologies.

One of the biggest issues facing solar panel efficiency is the fact that we can lose approximately 70% of the electromagnetic radiation that hits a solar cell because of a mismatch in energy levels. This paired with problems like the resistance that electrons face passing through conducting materials makes scientists think that in the future, even with improvements to the existing tech, we’re looking at a maximum, peak efficiency of solar panels at 29%.

When looking at why solar panels lose so much energy, the researchers behind this new tech saw that the radiation from the sun that couldn’t be absorbed by the solar panels was bouncing off as heat and they wanted to harness it.

The big question: How do we turn this heat into electricity?

Learn more about how this new solar technology works and how the solar panels could change the way we think about the future of the energy grid in this episode of Elements.

#SolarEnergy #SolarPower #Electricity #Seeker #Science #Elements

Scientists’ Crazy Plan to Power Solar Panels with E. Coli
https://youtu.be/_XZGrZ3DeLg

#Solar #Energy #EnvironmentalScience #Seeker #Science

Read More:
The heat recovery with heat transfer methods from solar photovoltaic systems
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10...
"Photovoltaic systems converts solar radiation directly into electrical energy thanks to semiconductors. But due to the nature of semiconductors, whole of solar energy cannot turn into electrical energy and the remaining energy turns into waste heat."

Carbon Nanotubes Could Increase Solar Efficiency to 80 Percent
https://www.popularmechanics.com/scie...
"Nanotubes had the advantage of simplicity with no moving parts. They were also conduits that could absorb waste heat and, in turn, convert it into narrow-bandwidth photons."

How Do Solar Panels Work?
https://www.livescience.com/41995-how...
"A solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells."

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