Renewable Energy From Sunlight as Well as From Raindrops
Sometimes a curse can be a blessing in disguise. Generally, rain is the worst nightmare for solar energy production, but if efforts are developed in the right direction future solar panels could turn this nightmare into a blessing.
A team of Chinese scientists developed and demonstrated a prototype to make rain a tremendous ally for solar panels. Thus, offering a possible solution for worldwide homeowners looking to invest in renewable energy. This prototype could change the way we utilize future solar panels for energy harvesting.
Working Mechanism of these Solar Panels
We are aware that Graphene is a revolutionary wonder material in current science and research. It is a very good conductor which has a number of advantages. It only requires a layer as thick as one atom for a gazillion electrons to move across the surface.
Graphene binds with the water molecules (from rain) to create a sort of a natural capacitor. The sharp difference in energy between the graphene’s electrons and the water’s ions produce electricity.
Electrons in Graphene bind to the positively charged ions. We commonly term this entire process as a Lewis acid-base interaction.
In such solar panels, power generation is a combination of two different “curse and blessing” processes. Primarily bright daytime sunlight stimulates the material inside the solar cell producing energy. Secondly when there is rainfall, it is the Graphene-water interaction that produces energy.
“Salt that exists in rainwater is separated as calcium and sodium ions. This makes water and graphene a splendid combo for energy creation. The natural water sticks to graphene and forms double layers with graphene electrons,” wrote the researchers in a paper published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
These new solar cells can be stimulated by incident light on sunny days and raindrops when it’s raining, yielding an optimal conversion efficiency of 6.53 % under 1.5 atmospheric pressure. But only converts about 6.5 % of the energy it gets, which pales in comparison to the 22 % you see among the world’s better solar panels.
Video: Future Solar Panels Generate Energy From Raindrops?
For more information, you may head over to the article at Angewandte Chemie Journal.
The experiments are still in laboratory phase and require work for “guide the design” of future all-weather solar cells and contribute to the growing influence of renewable energy.
With more work, future solar panels can be used when the sun is not shiny and it might not be right to call them solar panels at that point.