By Guest Blogger Joe McCord
Recent unpredictable weather patterns worldwide; tornadoes in Australia, ice storms in England and earthquakes in New Zealand among many other frightening events have many people previously on the side of the climate change skeptics reason to reconsider their view. With temperatures globally on the rise as well there is almost no doubt that something untoward is happening to our world, so the burgeoning new energy sector continues to go from strength to strength.
More and more people each year are installing solar panels on and around their homes, not only to help lower carbon emissions and lessen the greenhouse effect but also because they are financially better off doing so. But for those out there with a refined taste for design, covering a roof in solar panels is not a very attractive option. Fortunately, an Australian based scientist is on the verge of commercialising one of the more remarkable inventions seen in recent years, solar paint. Teams of scientists from the Notre Dame and USC in the US have developed a remarkably similar technology, bringing forth an interesting race to commercialise the product.
Professor Paul Dastoor is a professor of physics from the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia and has been working on this exciting invention for around 15 years. His idea as best I can explain in layman’s terms, is to take microscopic nanocrystals made of polymers (in the case of Paul Dastoor) or cadmium (in the case of the US based scientists) that act as semi-conductors and float them in a solution which can then be used to print onto a flexible and mobile surface or as paint. These semiconductors are so small that you can fit billions of them onto a pin head.
The ultimate goal is to be able to paint a sticky weatherproof paste onto any surface that will act as an invisible and extremely effective harness for solar energy. As of now though, the product is only able to be printed onto a plastic sheeting, which can then be glued onto a surface, invisible but not quite paint and still expensive. The US based scientists have applied a synthetic ligand to the process that not only protects the nanocrystals but also forms bridges between them, assisting in the transmission of electrical current.
While production of the nanocrystal is technically cheaper than the technology behind solar paneling, they aren’t as efficient at capturing solar power and as of right now you cannot apply them in the manner that is intended, solar paint. This combined with the cost of printing them onto the plastic means that right now, this technology works out more expensive that the usual means of harnessing solar energy.
In the case of the US based scientists, the fact that they use cadmium, inapplicable in the intended function due to its toxicity, means that they are now working on using different materials to conduct the energy. The world hopes that the Aussie and American scientists can work together to create this commercial product because it sounds absolutely amazing.
In the meantime, it is a good idea to get your house fitted out with solar panels and in Australia and the US at least, the government offers subsidies and tax offsets to do this.
About the Author
Joe McCord is a part time blogger and full time greenie. Joe would like to let you know that in Brisbane, Gold Coast and other parts of South East Queensland, get in touch with CB Solar for all your solar panel installation needs.