Tag Archive | "ucla"

UCLA researchers make breakthrough in solar energy


Solar energy breakthrough achieved by UCLA researchers

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) have made a major breakthrough in the field of solar energy. The team has been working on developing a new kind of solar cell that could change the way energy is harnessed from sunlight and open up more efficient options when it comes to tapping into this energy. Researchers have developed a transparent photovoltaic film that may be able to turn nearly any surface into a solar energy collector.

Transparent solar cells are gaining more notice

Transparent solar cells are relatively new to the field of clean energy. The concept behind these solar cells is simple as they are designed to collect sunlight without blocking the passage of this light. These solar cells could be affixed to windows, giving homes a new way to generate the electrical power they need throughout the day without blocking out light. While transparent solar cells have several attractive qualities, there are major challenges regarding efficiency that have yet to be overcome before these solar cells can be considered viable.

Solar energy - solar cell researchSolar cell is able to tap into a wider spectrum of light

The solar cell developed by UCLA researchers is comprised of two thin layers of a polymer material. Researchers suggest that their device is able to collect sunlight and generate electrical power more efficiently than conventional transparent solar cells. Part of the reason behind the solar cells higher efficiency has to do with its ability to collect a wider spectrum of light than its counterparts. Absorbing a wider spectrum of light allows the solar cell to generate more electrical power.

New solar cell is more efficient than previous iterations

UCLA researchers note that their solar cell is capable of converting sunlight into electrical power with 7.3% efficiency. In 2012, researchers were able to use their device to convert sunlight into electrical power with 4% efficiency. There are still many challenges that must be overcome before the transparent solar cell can be considered a viable solar energy system. One of these challenges has to do with scaling up the solar cell so that it can be used to produce large amounts of solar energy.

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UCLA and UC Berkeley release policy paper on electric vehicles


Electric Vehicles

Policy paper calls for legislative action to support adoption of electric vehicles

A new policy paper from the UCLA and UC Berkeley Schools of Law has been released and highlights the legislative actions that should be taken to ensure the mass-adoption of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles had once been considered a novelty, but have proven their capabilities and prowess over the past several years. Now, electric vehicles are often considered a viable replacement for traditional cars, especially for those that are concerned for the environment. Though consumers have been showing interest in electric vehicles, lawmakers have been slow to stimulate long-terms growth in the adoption of such vehicles.

California boasts of strong position in national market

California accounts for 11% of the national market for electric vehicles. As such, it holds significant influence over the auto industry and the companies devoted to the production of such vehicles. Though California holds a prominent place in the market, there is little being done to incentivize the adoption of electric vehicles, a fact that could hurt the state’s market presence and make it unattractive for automakers. According to the policy paper, legislative action on the federal, state, and local level must be taken in order to ensure the mass-adoption of electric vehicles by 2025.

Challenges must be overcome through legislative action

The U.S. market, as a whole, faces significant challenges in ensuring the mass-adoption of electric vehicles. Though consumers have shown some interest in electric vehicles, the vast majority are unfamiliar with such cars and have no information concerning their performance. The lack of a comprehensive infrastructure is also a serious issue. The cost of electric vehicles has also driven many consumers away from the market. Most of the problems facing the market can be solved through legislative action, but only if lawmakers are willing to take such action.

Recommendations on improving appeal of electric vehicles

The policy paper offers some recommendations that could help facilitate the mass-adoption of electric vehicles. Educating consumers is among the most significant actions that can be taken in this effort. Reducing the fees and costs that consumers and automakers face in the market is also expected to produce promising results. Finally, developing an expansive, easy to use infrastructure will help ensure that consumers have little excuse to avoid electric vehicles.

 

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UCLA researchers make a breakthrough in transparent solar cells


Solar Power

Research team makes progress with solar energy technology

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have made progress on the research and development of transparent solar cells. These types of solar cells have been growing in popularity within the science and technology communities because of their possible applications in creating solar energy systems. Because they are transparent, the cells could be affixed to windows, allowing for the passive generation of solar energy without the need for the common photovoltaic solar panels that are often associated with solar energy installations.

New transparent solar cells could have major implications for solar energy

The research and development of transparent solar cells has been going on for several years. Breakthroughs have been relatively uncommon, but UCLA researchers believe they have made promising progress in making transparent solar cells a reality. Researchers have developed a solar cell that is 70% invisible to the human eye and capable of producing electricity through the absorption of infrared light. Professor Yang Yang, director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at the California NanoSystems Institute and leader of the research team, believes that this breakthrough could have promising implications to the world of solar energy.

Cells made of lightweight, cost effective materials

According to UCLA researchers, the new transparent solar cells are made of plastic-like materials that make them lightweight and flexible. These materials also mean that the solar cells can be produced in large quantities at an affordable price. Such a feature is expected to be a major boon for the solar cells if they should ever reach the commercial market. The UCLA research team has conducted studies concerning their transparent solar cell, the findings of which can be found in the journal ACS Nano.

Solar cells may make solar energy more popular

With solar energy beginning to garner more attention in the U.S. for its applications in the residential sector, efforts to make more efficient and effective solar energy technologies have begun to grow more serious. Transparent solar cells could help solar energy gain popularity as it would add more versatility to energy systems and provide consumers with greater variety.

 

Related article(s) and resources:

http://cleantechnica.com/2012/07/22/solar-cells-for-windows-take-another-step-forward/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+%28CleanTechnica%29

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UCLA researchers develop new graphene supercapacitors that store massive amounts of energy


Hydrogen Research

Researchers from UCLA have developed a new way to produce supercapacitors. Supercapacitors are the common term referring to electrochemical capacitors. These technologies are capable of storing massive electrical charges and can discharge this energy more quickly than batteries. Supercapacitors are often considered the best form of energy storage currently available, but their production is costly and time consuming. UCLA researchers believe they have solved the problem of cost by using graphene, an allotrope of carbon.

By using graphene, researchers have been able to construct affordable supercapacitors that are significantly more powerful than their previous incarnations. Researchers say that these graphene supercapacitors can charge and discharge electricity nearly one thousand times faster than conventional batteries. These capacitors are also able to store much more energy than their predecessors. UCLA believes that its new capacitors could be the key to reliable and efficient energy storage for sustainable power.

Researchers have a great deal of work left to do in order to determine the viability of their new capacitors. In the future, these capacitors could be used alongside alternative energies like hydrogen and solar power and may be capable of storing the electricity produced by these energy systems for years. This could be considered a major victory for the world of alternative energy, as renewable fuel has long been held back from commercialization due to issues with reliable and efficient storage.

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