by Aaron Nordquist
SPRAY-ON SOLAR CELLS
As you know, I am a strong supporter and advocate for solar power. Scientists have invented a plastic solar cell, that can turn the sun’s power into electrical energy, more than 5 times more efficient and powerful than current solar cell technology. This new technology will be able to provide us with all of our electrical needs, in a more efficient, cleaner, and greener way.
This new plastic solar cell material uses nanotechnology, and contains the first solar cells that are able to harness the sun’s invisible infrared rays. Infrared rays are constantly bombarding the Earth, even on a cloudy day, and even at night! Infrared radiation is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths in the range 750 nm to 1 mm, between light waves and radio waves. They are called infrared because they lie below the red end of the visible spectrum. Because of the Earth’s atmosphere, some infrared radiation from the sun get’s trapped here on Earth. For the most part, this is a good thing, because it keeps our planet at the temperatures that we enjoy, but as we all know, the thickening of the atmosphere, from greenhouse gasses, traps more and more infrared radiation, which has accelerated the climate changes that we are noticing today. Since the world receives and collects so much infrared radiation, it seems only logical to learn how to harness it’s power.
Like spray-paint, this newly invented composite plastic may be easily applied onto solid objects or materials. All you have to do is put that object in the sunlight, or outside, and even some rooms in your house will have enough infrared radiation in the room to build up a charge. The energy is collected and stored within the nano-sized infrared solar cells in the plastic. Now that object carries it’s own portable electricity, which can continue to build up and store extra energy than it needs. That energy being stored in the cells on the objects surface can also be transferred to other electrical devices around the object, also through infrared, just in the same way that your remote control turns on your TV from far away. Remote controls use infrared light and sensors to communicate with one another, and this new invention provides the same technology.
For example, a pin on the lapel of your jacket, which is coated in this material, could power a cell-phone, or other wireless devices. An electric car painted with this material could convert enough energy into electricity to continually recharge the car’s battery. With a few modifications to your electrical devices, you could have everything in your house run on infrared solar electricity, and you could unplug everything!
This means that soon, we as a society, will be able to make all products wireless, and we wouldn’t have to plug in our toys, tools, or machines to the electrical grid, reducing our electrical energy needs. If you were to paint the outside of your with this spray-on solar cell technology, and leave the toaster out on the windowsill to charge up, you could unplug your toaster, put some bread in it, and it will work. Not just that, you could unplug every other appliance in your kitchen, and they would all still have power from the toaster. If we painted the outside of the Empire State Building, it could power an entire city block. If we painted every highway with this solar cell technology, we could power nations.
The researchers envision that one day, solar farms consisting of the plastic material could be rolled out across deserts, to generate enough clean energy to supply the entire planet’s power needs. One of the inventors, Ted Sargent, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of Toronto, said “The sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface delivers 10,000 times more energy than we consume. If we could cover 0.1% of the Earth’s surface with these very efficient, large-area solar cells, we could, in principle, replace all of our energy habits with a source of power that is clean and renewable.”
This couldn’t have come at a better time. The entire world is in desperate need of more efficient, cleaner, and renewable energy. According to the Department of Energy, The United States alone pumped the equivalent of nearly 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2005. More than 2 billion tons of that CO² came from electricity generation., since we burn fossil fuels for 70% of our electricity. Over half of the electricity comes from more than 500 coal-fired plants, which not only contributes to global warming, but also releases fine particles into the air that cause lung and heart problems. Less than 20% of our electricity is nuclear, coming from 104 nuclear power plants. Wind and solar installations today, apparently make up less than 1% of the electricity generation in the United States.
A massive switch to solar energy will be required by all nations, if we are to permanently solve the global warming issue, and in doing so we will avert countless other crises.
The spray-on solar cell technology may be the way to produce that switch. Human civilization is facing an imminent danger, and we must make the switch to solar---the safest, cleanest, most renewable, and most abundant resource---immediately, or suffer the consequences soon to be inflicted upon all of us.