Researchers from the Ocean University and Yunnan Normal University, both in China, have successfully developed a new solar energy panel capable of generating electric power from raindrops.
Conventional solar panels need sunlight for the photovoltaic cells to convert it into electricity. This makes solar panels more fit for the tropics, especially in Sub Sahara Africa where there is an abundance of sunlight almost all year round.
In countries where sunlight is scarce, making use of the current solar technologies is difficult. Researchers have therefore been looking for the way out for these countries in order to boost their ratings on clean energy.
According to this current invention by the Chinese, the solar panels will be able to produce electricity for households using both sunlight and water. This means the panels will be capable of producing electricity during all-weather conditions.
They researchers said they were inspired to design the all-weather solar panels due to the desire to strengthen clean energy across the world. Currently, the panels are still being subjected to laboratory test.
Computer World reports that the all-weather solar panels are flexible dye-sensitized solar cell coated with a one atom-thick layer of electron-enriched grapheme.
The researchers explained how the all-weather solar panels work in the journal Angewandte Chemie. They wrote that because of graphene’s conductivity, by placing a one-atom thick grapheme layer, the excessive amount of electrons would move across the surface.
And once raindrops come into contact with the panels, the grapheme would bind its electrons with positively charged ions, also known as the Lewis acid-base interactions. The graphene would then convert every raindrop into microamps and raindrops into hundreds of microvolts.
Although the invention still needs more studies to make the panels more efficient, like the existing single solar panel, the researchers believed it will be a perfect alternative to solve the growing demand of clean energy around the world, especially in countries that do not record enough sunlight.
In the United Kingdom for example, there is more rain than sunlight. Clean energy advocates say the panels will therefore be suitable in the country, and other countries that do not also record enough sunlight.
The Telegraph reports that the all-weather solar panels will offer a possible solution for homeowners in the United Kingdom who are looking to invest in renewable energy. The paper also reports that it could also reduce the price of electricity drastically in the country.
These benefits are not only limited to the United Kingdom alone. In places where the sunlight situation is not that encouraging, the all-weather solar panels will be best for such places.
The researchers are still conducting further studies on the panels. They want to make it as efficient as the current single solar panels we have. We would be monitoring them closely and report on the latest breakthrough of this wonderful invention.
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