Washington: An engineer at the Missouri University Chemical Engineering Department is in the process of developing a flexible solar sheet that captures more than 90 pc of available sunlight.
Patrick Pinhero and his team have developed a thin, moldable sheet of small antennas called nantenna, which can harvest the heat from industrial processes and convert it into usable electricity.
Their ambition is to extend this concept to a direct solar facing nantenna device capable of collecting solar irradiation in the near infrared and optical regions of the solar spectrum.
According to Pinhero, energy generated using traditional photovoltaic (PV) methods of solar collection is inefficient and neglects much of the available solar electromagnetic (sunlight) spectrum.
Today````s solar panels only collect about 20 pc of available light, he reveals.
"Our overall goal is to collect and utilize as much solar energy as is theoretically possible and bring it to the commercial market in an inexpensive package that is accessible to everyone," said Pinhero.
"If successful, this product will put us orders of magnitudes ahead of the current solar energy technologies we have available to us today," he added.
Pinhero plans to make prototypes available to consumers within the next five years.
First Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 18:08