Low cost silicon Production: cost effective solar panels
Compared to the current standard, a new method of producing solar cells could reduce the amount of silicon per unit area by upto 90 percent. This would help the manufacturers to produce solar modules, reducing the cost of solar power. One thing to ponder here is that pure silicone is expensive to get. This processing technique allows making solar cells from silicon that is 1000 times less pure, than the present industry standards
The solar cells are composed of the silicon fibres coated with glass. A glass tube of diameter 30 mm is inserted by a core of silicon. The tube filled with silicone is then stretched out into thin glass fibres. This is also a widely accepted industrial method used to produce fibre optic cables. Though this was for the first time silicone core fibres are made this way. Researchers at the Department of Physics at NTNU, working with the collaborators at Clemson University in the USA has done this and we appreciate them for doing such job. This would certainly help the manufacturers and the common people using solar panel at reduced rate but with higher efficiency.
Lower power consumption
This production process also enabled to solve old problem. Traditional solar cell required pure silicon. It was laborious, energy intensive and expensive to form pure silicone wafers. “We can use relatively dirty silicon, and the purification occurs naturally as part of the process of melting and re-solidifying in fibre form”, says Gibson (Researcher). “This means that you save energy, and eliminate several steps in production.” It roughly takes one third of the energy used previously to produce solar cells.
Gibson has worked for many years to combine purification and solar cell production. She got the idea and inspiration for the project after reading an article on silicon core fibers by John Ballato at Clemson University in South Carolina, who is at the forefront of research in fibre optics materials development. Hope that you guys would get the idea too in the say way and accomplish new task better than the current method. you can read here how solar cell works
The new approach
Silicon rods, a new types of solar cells for solar module are based on the vertical rods radial junction design. The design uses less pure silicon. The crash course for the inner working of solar cell is – photons of light have different energy associated with them which is directly proportional to the frequency or inversely to the wavelength of light.
The layers of silicon wafers absorb different photons which are tuned in with them. They generate free charges, charge carriers holes and electrons in case of semiconductors. Which are then separated to provide electrical energy. These electrical charges must be close to the p-n junction to be captured. If the charge is not captured then the energy dissipates in the form of heat, heating up the solar cell too. The journey where charge is generated to harness was long in traditional solar cells and also requiring pure silicon. But silicon fibre junctions are provided all the way around the fibre. That means if a charge is created by a point then it is captured there itself with the help of the fibres, even if they are impure.
Contemporary commercial solar cells have maximum efficiency of upto 21%. The power output is not very high by the prototype model. It is 3.6 percent only. The commercialization of this would take some time to be effective. But for now, research is in progress to make that happen soon. The researchers have faith and believe that they would increase the efficiency to a larger extent which can be done with proper fabrication and improved design. It is not fair to compare their cells with the modern solar cells which took around 40 years to establish to the current level. This was for the first time when someone made the cells this way which is worth appreciating. We all wish those best wishes to succeed and bring us a new revolution in the arena. Its interesting to see how solar cell have evolved with time See the timeline of solar cells.
We hope this article would be helpful to you. In case you have any query regarding the article or want to know some technicalities, please don’t hesitate to ask. We would love to reply you to the most possible way we can. Stay tuned with us for other Project Ideas and Engineering Projects.