Solar Energy News

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Updated: 7 hours 4 min ago

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity

13 hours 31 min ago
Researchers have developed and patented a nanofluid improving thermal conductivity at temperatures up to 400°C without assuming an increase in costs or a remodeling of the infrastructure. This progress has important applications in sectors such as chemical, petrochemical and energy, thus becoming a useful technology in all industrial applications using heat transfer systems such as solar power plants, nuclear power plants, combined-cycle power plants and heating, among other.

Crystallography: Towards controlled dislocations

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:53am
Scientists have used atomic-resolution Z-contrast imaging and X-ray spectroscopy in a scanning transmission electron microscope to explore dislocations in the binary II-VI semiconductor CdTe, commercially used in thin-film photovoltaics. The results may lead to eventual improvement in the conversion efficiency of CdTe solar cells. These novel insights into atomically resolved chemical structure of dislocations have potential for understanding many more defect-based phenomena.

Balancing renewable energy costs and optimizing energy mix

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 8:04am
Increasing reliance on renewable energies is the way to achieve greater carbon dioxide emission sustainability and energy independence. As such energies are yet only available intermittently and energy cannot be stored easily, most countries aim to combine several energy sources. Scientists have now come up with an open source simulation method to calculate the actual cost of relying on a combination of electricity sources.

2014 Nobel Prize in Physics: Invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:17am
The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, of Meijo University in Nagoya and Nagoya University, Japan; Hiroshi Amano, of Nagoya University, Japan; and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources."

Low-carbon energy future is clean, feasible

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:21pm
A future where electricity comes mostly from low-carbon sources is not only feasible in terms of material demand, but will significantly reduce air pollution, a study says.

Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 5:43am
Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device is both: the world’s first solar battery. Scientists have succeeding in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.

Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:42pm
Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team has taken a major step in developing long-sought polymer architecture to boost power-conversion efficiency of light to electricity for use in electronic devices.

How to make a 'perfect' solar absorber

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:32am
Researchers have developed a solar cell that can tap the sun's full radiation spectrum. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.

Nitrogen fingerprint in biomolecules could be from early sun

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 2:45pm
The pattern of nitrogen in biomolecules like proteins, which differ greatly from that seen in other parts of the solar system, could have been generated by the interactions of light from the early sun with nitrogen gas in the nebula, long before Earth formed.

Efficiently harvesting hydrogen fuel from Sun using Earth-abundant materials

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 1:12pm
Scientists have a new efficient way of producing hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. By combining a pair of solar cells made with a mineral called perovskite and low cost electrodes, scientists have obtained a 12.3 percent conversion efficiency from solar energy to hydrogen, a record using Earth-abundant materials as opposed to rare metals.

World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:28pm
The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued Reference Material 8027, the smallest known reference material ever created for validating measurements of these human-made, ultrafine particles between 1 and 100 nanometers -- billionths of a meter -- in size.

New organic semiconductor material: Organic tin in polymers increases their light absorption

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:13pm
Researchers have integrated organic tin into semiconducting polymers (plastics) for the first time. Semiconducting polymers can be used, for example, for the absorption of sun light in solar cells. By incorporating organic tin into the plastic, light can be absorbed over a wide range of the solar spectrum.

Natural gas usage will have little effect on carbon dioxide emissions, researchers find

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 10:36am
Abundant supplies of natural gas will do little to reduce harmful U.S. emissions causing climate change, according to researchers. They found that inexpensive gas boosts electricity consumption and hinders expansion of cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar.

New mobile solar unit is designed to save lives when the power goes out

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 10:29am
Brooke Ellison draws her own power from will, but the ventilator that keeps her alive requires uninterrupted electricity. Dr. Ellison is allowing scientists to field-test, at her home, the Nextek Power Systems STAR, a mobile solar generator.

Solar cells cheap enough to quickly cover their cost: Could double as semi-transparent blinds for windows

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:48am
One of the most common complaints about solar power is solar panels are still too expensive to be worth the investment. Many researchers have responded by making solar cells, the tile-like components of solar panels that absorb and transfer energy, more efficient and longer lasting. But even the longest living solar cells that most effectively convert sunlight to energy will not become common if they are prohibitively expensive.

Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 5:21pm
A civil engineering research team has developed a new way to clean oil sands process affected water and reclaim tailings ponds in Alberta's oil sands industry. Using sunlight as a renewable energy source instead of UV lamps, and adding chlorine to the tailings, oil sands process affected water is decontaminated and detoxified -- immediately.

Solar explosions 'inside' a computer: Understanding solar flares to improve predictions

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:22am
Strong solar flares can bring down communications and power grids on Earth. By demonstrating how these gigantic eruptions are caused, physicists are laying the foundations for future predictions. The shorter the interval between two explosions in the solar atmosphere, the more likely it is that the second flare will be stronger than the first one.

Magnetic fields make the excitons go 'round: New way to improve efficiency of solar cells

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 1:51pm
A major limitation in the performance of solar cells happens within the photovoltaic material itself: When photons strike the molecules of a solar cell, they transfer their energy, producing quasi-particles called excitons -- an energized state of molecules. That energized state can hop from one molecule to the next until it's transferred to electrons in a wire, which can light up a bulb or turn a motor.

Fracking's environmental impacts scrutinized

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 8:29am
Greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of shale gas would be comparable to conventional natural gas, but the controversial energy source actually fared better than renewables on some environmental impacts, according to new research.

Solar-cell efficiency improved with new polymer devices

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 1:28pm
New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers. Researchers identified a new polymer -- a type of large molecule that forms plastics and other familiar materials -- which improved the efficiency of solar cells. The group also determined the method by which the polymer improved the cells' efficiency. The polymer allowed electrical charges to move more easily throughout the cell, boosting the production of electricity -- a mechanism never before demonstrated in such devices.