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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 ZmaxDP on 7/26/2007 11:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
Man, someone needs to work on their caculator, cause it is way off. I'm going to e-mail them and ask for some more of their assumptions, because something is just wrong. It reccomended a 14Kw system to meet my needs based on solar angles, etc... Which is laughable, and were it true, you'd be right.

As far as I can tell be reverse engineering their calculations, they are assuming panels at roughly 15 to 16 % efficient. I know that about two years ago I helped install some panels that were about 18% efficient, so I'd imagine things are better now, as mentioned in my earlier post. Looking at their other efficiency assumptions, they are very conservative. I know the solar company I worked with wouldn't install an inverter that didn't pass a 95% efficiency testing in their lab. The worst assumption of all is that the page is set to assume you want to have enough panels to meet 100% of your peak load at the specified solar radiance average. This is also just silly. The whole point of being tied into the grid is so you don't have to do that! You should take a look at your average utility rate, and then at the average buy-back rate (which is usually lower - I wish congress would get off their ass and require energy companies to buy back electricity at the same rate they sell it). Take a look at the percentage difference. If your buyback is half of your rate, then you should aim to be selling twice as much energy as you buy for a good break even point. So, aim for enough panels to meet 2/3rds of your calculated peak loads. Not 100%

Correct those assumptions to match some updated figures and you're in a lot better shape...

Listen, you can run web calcs all you want. I personally know people who've seen ROI at 5 years or less on solar systems in Austin. As mentioned, we've got good solar exposure (not poor) and some nice rebates from our local energy company (10%!) so we've definitely got an edge on michigan. Now, I'd like to know what 20 different factors I'm ignoring this time around, or for that matter what 20 different factors some clients (and reality) are ignoring too. You'll have a hard time convincing them they haven't gotten their money back...

Like I said before, comparing solar panels to stock investments is silly. Not quite as silly as the OP implied, but still a bit silly. Especially over a long period of time. The beauty of compounding and all... But, just as I was ignoring "20 factors" that neither of us can probably name, you're ignoring hundreds of factors which I'll lump sum into this one: The economic costs of climate change and fossil fuel depletion. There is no internet calculator to lump up those costs, and if you could disperse that over the tons and tons of CO2 you don't pump into the air when you're using solar panels, it might have a much higher value than you'd think...

One parting shot. People shouldn't install solar panels to MAKE money, but you said people shouldn't install solar panels to SAVE money, and I'm sorry but I know better. You can install solar panels and save a lot of money, and it doesn't take nearly as long as you, or that website imply, if you do it correctly. (By coorrectly I mean don't install them in your basement, or on your roof at the correct solar angle in Michigan. You're not in the 40% that are close to the 5 year ROI mark on a properly installed, properly sized solar panel array.) Wait another 5 years for us to hit 50% efficient panels and then I'll tell you to install them too.


“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls











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