SEARCH BLOG: ENERGY.
Cheap, abundant solar energy and cheap, powerful battery storage is the "Holy Grail" of the alternative energy visionaries. So far, the "cheap" has eluded the solar part and "powerful" has eluded the battery part. So we end up with costs in kilowatts per hour that far exceed conventional sources of electricity and batteries that can run our new electric Volts for 20 or 30 miles before needing a long re-charge.
Now, two universities have announced separate developments that could signal the next generation of alternative energy creation and storage.
Stanford University has developed a new type of solar cell.
Stanford University scientists have built the first solar cell made entirely of carbon, a promising alternative to the expensive materials used in photovoltaic devices today.
The results are published in the Oct. 31 online edition of the journal ACS Nano.
"Carbon has the potential to deliver high performance at a low cost," said study senior author Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a working solar cell that has all of the components made of carbon. This study builds on previous work done in our lab."
Unlike rigid silicon solar panels that adorn many rooftops, Stanford's thin film prototype is made of carbon materials that can be coated from solution. "Perhaps in the future we can look at alternative markets where flexible carbon solar cells are coated on the surface of buildings, on windows or on cars to generate electricity," Bao said.
The coating technique also has the potential to reduce manufacturing costs, said Stanford graduate student Michael Vosgueritchian, co-lead author of the study with postdoctoral researcher Marc Ramuz.
"Processing silicon-based solar cells requires a lot of steps," Vosgueritchian explained. "But our entire device can be built using simple coating methods that don't require expensive tools and machines." Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-all-carbon-solar-cell.html#jCp
'Crushed' porous silicon anodes show dramatic increase in charge-discharge cycles
The team led by Rice engineer Sibani Lisa Biswal and research scientist Madhuri Thakur reported in Nature's open access journal Scientific Reports on the creation of a silicon-based anode, the negative electrode of a battery, that easily achieves 600 charge-discharge cycles at 1,000 milliamp hours per gram (mAh/g). This is a significant improvement over the 350 mAh/g capacity of current graphite anodes.
That puts it squarely in the realm of next-generation battery technology competing to lower the cost and extend the range of electric vehicles.This points to what many have been saying all along: just because the government mandates alternative energy in the marketplace, the marketplace will not accept alternative energy until it is ready for the marketplace. These two development, while still years from commercial production, may signal the kinds of developments for alternative energy that actually make sense economically.