Today’s Solutions: May 27, 2022

Last month, we wrote a story on solar cells developed by Stanford University that could draw a small amount of power at night, when most would think solar panels would be useless. 

The endeavor to create solar panels that can draw additional power at night is growing. Now, a collaboration of researchers from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW Sydney and the ARC Center of Excellence in Exciton Science, have developed groundbreaking infrared technology that could lead to nocturnal solar panels. 

The research team ran a successful test on a thermo-radiative diode, a device that converts infrared heat into electricity. It operates on the same technology used in night-vision goggles. 

“In the late 18th and early 19th century it was discovered that the efficiency of steam engines depended on the temperature difference across the engine, and the field of thermodynamics was born,” Exciton Science associate investigator and lead researcher Nicholas Ekins-Daukes said in a press release

“The same principles apply to solar power — the sun provides the hot source and a relatively cool solar panel on the Earth’s surface provides a cold absorber. This allows electricity to be produced. However, when we think about the infrared emission from the Earth into outer space, it is now the Earth that is the comparatively warm body, with the vast void of space being extremely cold. By the same principles of thermodynamics, it is possible to generate electricity from this temperature difference too: the emission of infrared light into space.”

In initial tests, the amount of energy produced with the thermo-radiative diode was very small compared to daytime solar panel output, about 0.001 percent. While this is a very small start, it does prove that solar panels can in fact produce electricity at night, and the team is conducting more research and creating more partnerships to further the technology.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

US injects $3.5 billion into carbon removal technologies

The US has ambitious goals to reach and maintain a net-zero economy by 2050. To get the nation closer to this objective, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is accelerating its Carbon Negative Shot initiative ... Read More

Pennsylvania schools doubled their solar power in the last two years

Renewable energy production is taking off in the Keystone State. A new report from the nonprofit Generation180 reveals that Pennsylvania schools doubled their solar power capacity over the last two years of the Pandemic. This ... Read More

Recycled old tires could make roads last twice as long

Prolonged sun exposure is one of the main contributors to asphalt cracking. That’s because the heat from the sun dries up the road’s moisture content, making it brittle and prone to wear. A team of ... Read More

Germany slashes public transportation costs to reduce fossil fuel dependence

In the energy standoff between Europe and Russia, Germany has taken many measures to accelerate the phasing out of oil and gas. It has resolved to make energy cheaper for homes and businesses. It has ... Read More

Want to keep sharks and beachgoers safe? There’s an app for that

Sharks, as top predators, are a keystone species. This means the balance of whole marine ecosystems relies heavily on sharks' well-being. Protecting and conserving sharks is of the utmost importance, especially since they already face ... Read More

New gel film pulls drinking water from the air in even the driest places

Getting water to drought-stricken areas is an increasing concern for scientists. In the future, desalination systems will become simpler and more accessible to get water to those who need it, but another solution could be ... Read More

X

Emissaries, Log in to hide this reminder

You have read 28 aricles on The Optimist Daily. Support reader-funded independent journalism. Help us make a difference in the world, shifting consciousness towards a solution focused mindset.

For just $5 per month Emissaries have access to unlimited solutions and a community of like minded positive thinkers.