Cheap, Superefficient Solar Panels

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by cstevens, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. cstevens
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    cstevens Super Genious

    Technology Review has an article describing advanced solar panel technology that concentrate's the sun's energy. While focusing the sun's rays for greater efficiency is not a new idea, according to the article it's now finally heading for mass production:


    -Coop
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2006
  2. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    The Saudis were right , pumping up the price of oil , and NOT crashing the price every few years to discourage other energy sources is a big mistake (for the oil cartel).

    Will be nice if some of this Pie in the Sky ever works.

    I'm still waiting for my personal flying car (Popular Mechanics of '55).


    FAST FRED
     
  3. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Concentrators are making a bit of a comeback, in various forms.... there's not much new technology there, though, just new uses of old stuff. Gochermann cell encapsulation (used on some spacecraft and high-end solar cars) includes a coating of tiny prism-like structures that act sort of like concentrators at low incident angles. Reflective concentrators aren't new either, Queen's beat the pants off Waterloo 18 years ago with a car equipped with solar concentrators. Fresnel lenses have also been used successfully before. I think what's different this time, though, is that the PV cells themselves are finally cheap enough for the idea to go mainstream. It'll be neat to see where things go from here.
     
  4. nero
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    nero Senior Member

    makes no difference for boats. The amount of sunlight per square meter is the same. Weather you add concentrating lens(s) over this area or capture the light direct to solar pannels it is the same efficiency so the same amount of electricity generated.

    Perhaps this is a way to keep the mass dependent on the few (who have everything already)
     
  5. cstevens
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    cstevens Super Genious

    Alternative Power Sources

    It is expensive to power a vessel across the ocean given fuel costs. I looked around last night after finding the link on solar panels--the highest non-hybrid electrical marine engine I found was 25bhp.

    Given that electrical engines are up to task, why don't we see, say, cruising boats lined from bow to stern with batteries and sailing good range on electric?

    In the meantime, I stumbled upon this link pointing to technology LED technology that provides lighting in the form of a flat sheet: flat light bulbs. This particular unit is AC but DC are actually simpler to build--LED's are DC to begin with.


    On the asthetics front you have a craft you would charge dockside. The engine would run silently on your cruise requiring less maintenance and without fumes of any kind.


    -Coop
     
  6. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

  7. cstevens
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    cstevens Super Genious

    HelioVolt PV Panel Arrays

    From what I can see, there are two main competing SP technologies: Photo Voltaic (PV) and Concentrated Photo Voltaic (CPV). CPV, the technology I posted above is widely regarded as more efficient form of solar panel. However, CPV's are, until recently, much costlier to manufacture.

    The link you posted is rather interesting. I note from one of the links on the page the following from TIME:

    "Imagine a solar panel so thin it can't exist apart from the building material it's printed on. HelioVolt didn't invent copper indium gallium selenide, a thin film used to generate electricity from sunlight, but it did develop a faster, more cost-effective way to manufacture it for use in large commercial spaces. The new process involves printing a fine layer of semiconductor directly onto glass, metal and other building materials so that new skyscrapers can go up solar power-ready from day one." (Source)

    It captures the imagination to think that we may some day manufacture sails or fiberglass deck hulls with the PV panels CNC'd directly to the decking surface. While I am musing, the system might also be fitted with a heat exchanger such that the array could heat the vessel's water.

    The HelioVolt technology differentiates itself in that the paneling is etched directly to the building material.


    -Coop
     
  8. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    nero- you're absolutely right that it makes no difference on a boat; indeed, on a solar powered boat (just like a modern solar car) you're better to put out as much total cell area as you can. I think where concentrators show some promise is in stationary applications where they might eventually have a cost advantage over bare cells.
     
  9. yotphix
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    yotphix Junior Member

    cstevens, Not sure if you know about Duffy
    http://www.duffyboats.com/

    In Newport Beach California, there must be at least 150 of these things, the newest version being 21 feet with a cuddy head, bar fridge etc. A friday night has dozens out on harbour cruises. Silent, covered and sheltered, no appreciable wake and a 5 knot cruise with 5 or 6 adults on board. In 4 months here I have only seen one run its batteries down and require a tow. Exactly the same number of gas powered boats i have seen run out of gas.
     
  10. nero
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    nero Senior Member

    Yes, concentrators are a great way to reduce the cost and provide more protection to the cell surface. I was just looking at the subject from a boat usage point of view.

    The low efficiency of solar pannels is a problem for limited surface area applications. Making sails with low-efficency, PV cell surfaces is not realistic. The sail surface is in the wrong direction.

    In the marine market, the need is for higher efficiency.
     
  11. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Nanotechnology and plastic solar cells seem to be the inmediate future:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_solarplastic.html
    http://unisci.com/stories/20022/0401024.htm
    http://www.nanotechnology.com/news/?id=9248

    From this last:
    "...One part of the project will focus on developing better light gathering capabilities. Diaz is currently working on the fabrication of a photonic antenna, a device that he says will increase the number of light photons absorbed through a solar cell, thereby boosting the rate of energy production.....
    ....Once the photons are captured, the light energy is absorbed by electrons, producing a charge in the process and generating electricity. Separating and guiding the charge along a circuit poses a difficult technical challenge. According to Diaz, in order to take greater advantage of light-gathering antennae, it is necessary to directly assemble and position them adjacent to light-absorbing molecules at nanometer-scale precision....
    ....The research team's novel approach focuses on the molecule of life, DNA....
    The DNA will act as the scaffold that holds everything together, says Lindsay. "It will hold the antenna that gathers light together with the molecules that convert the intensified light to electricity. The antenna, by concentrating light, will increase the rate of absorption of the light photons."...."

    Cheers
     
  12. nero
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    nero Senior Member

    These articals seem to back-up my point. One stating that as the sun came up it is at 1.4 % efficiency because of the angle of incidence at that time of the day.

    Perhaps by bouncing the light off the deck one could get more protons heading in the right direction for a solar cell sail. Doing this as everything is changing would be a cool trick.

    These articals have been touched by the PR department. Consistently stating high efficency ... compared to silica solar cells ... which are poor at 30%.

    Of course the other side to electricity on a boat is the amount needed. LED's and that cool film light have lowered this amount.
     
  13. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    The only question for most sailors is, "will it operate my refrigeration?

    FAST FRED
     

  14. cstevens
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    cstevens Super Genious

    Applied Marine Nano-technology


    Nero got me thinking about the complexities involved with dynamically moving the solar array for maximum efficiency. Perhaps implementing nano-motors would be too costly, but what about general marine nano-technology?

    A google for "nanotechnology produce electricity" produced this article about nano genorators. Nano Generators are basically arrays of sub-micro wires that transfer motion energy into electricity.

    Disclaimer: These ideas are purely speculation. I have no illusion about the challenges between concept and implementation.

    Sails flap around all the time, perhaps novice sailers might see greater electrical output ;) . Fiberglass cloth might one day be weaved with nanowires to collect the energy from waves hitting the hull.

    On the energy reduction front, I can say with confidence that LED's are the way to go on new ships. LED's:

    1. Consume a fraction of the energy of conventional lighting sources​
    2. Long lasting​
    3. Run via a DC power source​
    4. Are capable of functioning in harsh environments​
    5. Come in a wide array of shapes and sizes​

    Per Fred, we would want to circuit the harnessed energy first to the refrigerator. :)


    -Coop
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2006
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