Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#ENERGY: "Photosynthesis Emulated for Self-Repairing Solar Cells"

A U.S. national laboratory claims its photosynthesis technique, using special polymers, can generate hydrogen fuel from air, water, and sunlight—just like green plants. Look for artificial photosynthesis for industry and households within five years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses neutron scattering on lamellar structure of a hydrogen-producing, biohybrid composite material confirming that man-made polymers can self-repair using light harvesting proteins in green plants. (Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

Here is what my Smarter Technology story says about photosynthesis: The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory claims to have found a way to combine synthetic polymers with living proteins to create a self-repairing solar-cell technology whose efficiency will not degrade over time. Today solar panels are available using a wide variety of materials whose prices are set according to the efficiencies obtained. For instance, the highest achieved efficiencies to date (as high as 25 percent) come from expensive multi-band gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cells, which are only affordable by military and space applications. Next in efficiency comes pure crystalline silicon solar cells (about 15 percent efficient), then amorphous silicon (about 10 percent) followed by thin-film polymer-based solar panels, which are the lowest in both cost and efficiency (as low as 5 percent)...
Full Text: