The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Notre Dame Researchers Explore Technology to Realize Full Potential of Solar Power
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame say it takes just one hour for the sun to deliver more energy to the Earth’s surface than what the entire world uses in just one year. To them, discovering inexpensive, yet innovative, technologies can help us realize the full potential of solar power.
A group led by graduate student Jeffrey Christians says it has identified an inorganic material for perovskite solar cells that provides a lower-cost alternative to the polymers currently used in cells. The researchers think organo-lead halide perovskite solar cells—and their "record efficiency levels"—can lead the next generation of solar cells.
Solar cells have exclusively used organic, hole-conducting polymers that conduct electricity in the cells. Organic polymers are normally more expensive because they are synthetically produced and need to be pure for photovoltaic applications, according to the study.
The researchers replaced an organic polymer with copper iodide, which is cheaper and inorganic. The copper iodide produced power conversion efficiencies as high as 6 percent. Although comparable cells with organic polymers can achieve close to 8-percent efficiency, copper iodide could surpass that level with a few refinements to the solar cell, according to the researchers, who published their study in the December Journal of the American Chemical Society.
“Of all the potential renewable energy sources available, solar energy is really the only option that has the potential to completely meet humanity’s energy needs,” Christians said in a University of Notre Dame College of Science publication. “However, to reach this ambitious goal, there needs to be a transformative solar cell technology that dramatically lowers the cost for consumers.”
The group's goal is commercial competitiveness, which would come with 10-percent efficiency. They have already identified areas and ideas to optimize the perovskite and hole-conducting layers to better the performance of the perovskite solar cells.
“This is our first attempt to employ bench-top technology to design simple and cheaper solar cells with efficiencies competitive with current commercial photovoltaic devices,” Christians said. “This work opens the door for further research and the exploration of a range of inorganic materials, potentially making these already inexpensive solar cells even more affordable.”
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
It's become a familiar story with the Trump administration: Scientists write a report that shows the administration's policies will cause environmental damage, then the administration buries the report and fires the scientists.
By Jake Johnson
Calling the global climate crisis both the greatest threat facing the U.S. and the greatest opportunity for transformative change, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled today a comprehensive Green New Deal proposal that would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs over a decade.
The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.
The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.