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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 TomZ on 7/25/2007 11:58:18 PM , Rating: 0
quote:
I think it's resonably obvious why Govts should encourage renewable energy use

That sounds nice, but you're only looking at one aspect.

For example, are you aware that solar power total costs are 3-5x higher than other commonly-used energy sources? Another view is that you could call the government in Portugal irresponsible for investing in solar power that will have a further negative effect on the standard of living of people in Portugal. But I suppose, to you, it would be worth it, right?

What about the pollution created via the manufacture of solar cells, which need to be installed in the first place, and replaced every 'n' years? Are you aware of the nasty chemicals, or the high amount of energy needed for the manufacture of that stuff?

I'm not saying renewable energy sources are bad; I'm just pointing out that its use involves a set of trade-offs. Choosing one positive and creating a number of negatives might be better, or it might be worse - depends on your values. But to be sure, their decisions are not so impressive, as you believe. And there is no "silver bullet" magic solution that exists that we just need to have the intelligence and will to apply. (Except maybe nuclear, which is pretty close to that.)


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.


"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer











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