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Somenath Mitra, PhD, is among a group of NJIT researchers working to develop an inexpensive, easy process to produce solar panels.  (Source: New Jersey Institute of Technology)
Scientists say the plastic panels could be cranked out at home with an inkjet printer

Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) claim to have developed an inexpensive solar cell that can be painted or printed on flexible plastic sheets.

In a release prepared by the University, researcher Somenath Mitra, PhD, stated, "Someday homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations."  Mitra is a professor and acting chair of NJIT's Department of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences.

Purified silicon, the same core material used for fabricating computer chips, is required for making conventional photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. The material is costly, difficult to handle and manufacture, and as a result, it is also subject to shortages. The NJIT research is focused on replacing purified silicon organic solar cells based on polymers.

Not only would such materials be vastly cheaper than silicon-based PV cells, they would also be significantly easier to use in a variety of ways. "Imagine someday driving in your hybrid car with a solar panel painted on the roof, which is producing electricity to drive the engine. The opportunities are endless," Mitra said.

The solar cell developed at NJIT uses a carbon nanotubes complex, combined with carbon "Buckyballs," or fullerenes. Together, these nanomaterials form snake-like structures using Buckyballs to trap electrons generated by polymers exposed to sunlight. Nanotubes are used to conduct the electrons, creating a flowing current.

Details of the process were described in the article "Fullerene single wall carbon nanotube complex for polymer bulk heterojunction photovoltaic cells," recently published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry by the Royal Society of Chemistry.



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RE: Where can I buy one?
By masher2 (blog) on 7/25/2007 9:23:28 PM , Rating: 1
> "governments must do much more to encourage this..."

Why?

> "Portugal [has] adopted a very holistic approach to generating renewable power and now lead the world..."

Not in economic growth or standard of living, certainly. What do you feel they're leading in?


RE: Where can I buy one?
By Felofasofa on 7/25/2007 11:04:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not in economic growth or standard of living, certainly. What do you feel they're leading in?


I think it's resonably obvious why Govts should encourage renewable energy use. Portugal has the second largest solar array and are building what will apparently be the largest array on the globe. They also have a large number of wind turbines feeding their grid. They have also installed an impressive, Scottish built generator powered by wave motion. This is experimental though. What impressed me about about Portugal though, was the attitude of Govt and peoples, recognising the benefits of renewables and working together to make it happen, and they seemed to be well on the path.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By TomZ on 7/25/07, Rating: 0
RE: Where can I buy one?
By Felofasofa on 7/26/2007 2:46:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Another view is that you could call the government in Portugal irresponsible for investing in solar power


Solar is just one aspect of their stratedgy. The point I'm trying to make is the Portugeuse are making tangible efforts to reduce their Carbon footprint by being energy efficient. Down here in Aussie we are sitting on, and exporting, ridiculous amounts of coal, selling LPG to the Chinnese for 2 cents a litre, almost half the worlds uranium, from a cost aspect, renewables are never going to compete with those resources. Attitudes and perspectives must be broader for lots of good planet saving reasons. Efforts to reduce carbon output is a responsibilty of both Govt and individuals. The Portugeuse are having a go, we're not down here, our Carbon footprint is outrageously high per capita. Where I live, we get nearly 300 sunny days a year, few take advantage of it, coal fired power is just so cheap. Capitalism as a mechanism for change is struggling here.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By masher2 (blog) on 7/26/2007 9:58:35 AM , Rating: 2
> "Down here in Aussie we are sitting on...almost half the worlds uranium....renewables are never going to compete with those resources..."

You do realize that nuclear power generates no carbon dioxide and is as 'renewable' as wind and solar power, given those uranium deposits are likely to last longer than human civilization.

> "Efforts to reduce carbon output is a responsibilty of both Govt and individuals"

That is a statement which requires a belief in a very shaky chain of logic.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By Felofasofa on 7/26/2007 9:09:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That is a statement which requires a belief in a very shaky chain of logic.

Yeah, it's tenuous, but why shouldn't we be accountable. We have the means to accurately measure our impact across a broad spectrum of socio-economic activity. Lazy energy use should be jumped on.

quote:
given those uranium deposits are likely to last longer than human civilization.


So will the waste though, and it's hugely toxic. Pressure is building on Aussie to begin accepting Nuke waste from abroad, because of our vast geo stable, wide open spaces. People here aren't keen on it though.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By ZmaxDP on 7/26/2007 11:54:26 PM , Rating: 2
Solar power costing 3 to 5 times what other enery sources cost is now an outdated figure. Use current tech when creating these rules of thumb at least. It is no different than saying Intel cpus are still more power hungry than AMD because you've compared P4s to A64s and who cares if there is something called C2D? Given, Solar isn't less expensive now either...

Once again though, you're taking the direct costs of fossil fuels and comparing them with the direct and latent costs of solar panels and calling it "fair." Try including the latent costs of fossil fuels in the equation for a change. Or even nuclear for that matter. How about all the costs of litigation that come with attempting to build a fossil fuel plant in a developed area, or the costs in terms of property devaluation within sight of such a plant? I can keep going...

Don't get me wrong, all in all I agree with you. No magic bullets, solar isn't the solution to everyone's or even most people's energy problems. But for some cases it works extremly well, and it is getting better all the time.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By ZmaxDP on 7/26/2007 11:54:47 PM , Rating: 2
Solar power costing 3 to 5 times what other enery sources cost is now an outdated figure. Use current tech when creating these rules of thumb at least. It is no different than saying Intel cpus are still more power hungry than AMD because you've compared P4s to A64s and who cares if there is something called C2D? Given, Solar isn't less expensive now either...

Once again though, you're taking the direct costs of fossil fuels and comparing them with the direct and latent costs of solar panels and calling it "fair." Try including the latent costs of fossil fuels in the equation for a change. Or even nuclear for that matter. How about all the costs of litigation that come with attempting to build a fossil fuel plant in a developed area, or the costs in terms of property devaluation within sight of such a plant? I can keep going...

Don't get me wrong, all in all I agree with you. No magic bullets, solar isn't the solution to everyone's or even most people's energy problems. But for some cases it works extremly well, and it is getting better all the time.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By Hoser McMoose on 7/26/2007 12:45:21 PM , Rating: 3
That large solar power plant in Portugal is 11MW. Typically solar power gets you a capacity factor of about 20-25%, so really it's producing an average of 2.2 to 2.75MW of power on average. For comparison, a fairly normal coal or nuclear power plant will be in the 1500 to 3000MW range and they usually achieve 80-90% capacity factors. Within 150 miles of me (as the crow flies) there is a 3920MW coal plant (Nanticoke), a 1975MW coal plant (Lambton), a 3100MW nuclear plant (Pickering), a 3524MW nuclear plant (Darlington) and a 4700MW nuclear plant (Bruce). This sort of thing is not abnormal for densely populated areas in North America and Europe (FWIW I'm in southwestern Ontario, Canada).

Long story short, from a real perspective this solar power plant is TINY from an electricity generating perspective. It contributes about 0.05% of Portugal's electricity consumption (total electricity use is about 45TWh per year) In total all the solar, wind, wave and biomass make up somewhere around 5-6% of Portugal's electricity mix. Hydro power makes up about 35% and fossil fuels the remaining 60% or so.

Better then some countries (including both the US and Canada) but certainly not leading the world. Denmark and Germany both produce a higher percentage of their electricity from wind alone.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By Alexander2007 on 7/26/2007 8:31:32 AM , Rating: 2
Well its typical, if the US did not abuse and pollute the planet we never would end up in this situation..

The US is by far the biggest contributor to the problem. And it’s proven that Americans can’t objectively judge their responsibility.

And you ask what the Portuguese have accomplished? Well your not to bright my friend. They are saving your ass. !! Witch I recommend you should get up of and start helping out instead of evaluating everything from a capitalist view, because that is exactly what got us in this mess.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By TomZ on 7/26/2007 8:49:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well its typical, if the US did not abuse and pollute the planet we never would end up in this situation..

The US is by far the biggest contributor to the problem. And it’s proven that Americans can’t objectively judge their responsibility.

What "situation" are you talking about? What "mess" do you mean? You mean the the prosperity in the US, which leads to greater power consumption, which is the same in all developed nations around the world? What is the great problem you see with that?

The problem is really with enviro-freaks that believe that all development is evil, and all human needs should be reduced/eliminated to protect the environment. Can't eat animals, can't heat our homes, can't drive to work, etc. You believe that if we're not poor and living a spartan, minimal lifestyle, then we're "wasting." Sorry, that's just not true.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By masher2 (blog) on 7/26/2007 10:02:25 AM , Rating: 4
> "The US is by far the biggest contributor to the problem"

If you mean the "problem" of carbon dioxide, the US is not the largest contributor, either on a total generated or a per-capita basis. China now generates more on a gross basis, and a dozen different nations beat the US on a per-capita basis.


RE: Where can I buy one?
By Felofasofa on 7/26/2007 9:34:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And it’s proven that Americans can’t objectively judge their responsibility.


There's a technical term for this now, it's called the "Perception Gap". Which is the difference between how the US see themselves in the world, and how the rest of the world sees the US. And guess what?....it's widening!


"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard











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