Recyclable solar cells made from trees
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in collaboration with colleagues from the College of Engineering at Purdue University have created a technology that could provide the basis for the creation of the renewable energy sources – solar panels from trees.
Professor Bernard Kippelen of Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Engineering led the study and says his team’s project opens the door for a truly recyclable, sustainable, and renewable solar cell technology.
“The development and performance of organic substrates in solar technology continues to improve, providing engineers with a good indication of future applications” says Kippelen, who is also the director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE).
Solar cells have been the basis of the principles of photosynthesis – the process by which all plants absorb and use the sun’s energy for growing. Researchers report that the organic solar cells reach a power conversion efficiency of 2.7 percent, an unprecedented figure for cells on substrates derived from renewable raw materials.
Interesting is also the fact that these organic structures work in concert with nanocrystals of cellulose – biodegradable materials that will wash away the solar cells with warm water at the end of their functional cycle. Renewable energy from renewable resources allows us to call this technology as environmentally friendly.
Scientists continue their research; the ultimate goal is to increase efficiency to obtain more clean electricity. If all goes according to plan, the production of these elements will have to adjust for the next five years.
Imagine the potential: millions of cheap and processed solar cells created from environmental and endless material. In case of damage or failure, solar cells can simply be cleaned with water and create new ones. Of course, scientists are going to take precautions when handling elements such as rain. After all, just one little rain and all your energy system will wash away into sewer.