Scientists seek to enhance so-called anti-solar energy generationAugust 31, 2020
Researchers have developed a new method for continuing to produce electricity when the sun sets.
New study results suggest that researchers have come up with a method to substantially improve so-called anti-solar energy generation through panels that can sustainably produce electricity at night.
Among the top challenges to using sunlight to generate power is that it inevitably goes away at night.
Traditional photovoltaic cells work because they are naturally colder than sunlight, so they capture sunlight’s heat and convert it into electricity. On the other hand, anti-solar energy panels work in a notably different way. They are cooler than the heat the Earth naturally releases at night. They capture that heat and convert it into electricity through thermoelectric generation technology.
Developers of this tech originally said that this makes it possible to generate about one quarter the electricity of photovoltaic cells during the daytime. It means that some power is being generated at night when the alternative would be essentially nothing at all.
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That said, a new study’s authors say they have evolved this technology into a method that is far more efficient. In fact, the study, which was published in the Optics Express journal, indicated that in simulations, the new method could generate as much as 120 percent of prior nighttime electricity production.
The anti-solar energy panels work through improvements to the thermoelectric generator.
The research team that developed the new nighttime energy generation tech is from Stanford University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. They have improved on the thermoelectric generator by using a material that allows for greater efficiency. It makes it possible for the generator to more efficiently eliminate excess heat.
According to the researchers, following an analysis of their upgrades, their anti-solar energy generator redesign was able to achieve a 2.2 watts of energy production per square meter. This is 120 times the amount of energy of prior nighttime panel models.
The researchers underscored that while the new anti-solar energy panels perform well during simulations, there is a difference between what is simulated and a physical system’s performance. That said, the new model uses tech and materials that are presently readily available. Therefore, in theory, it should be possible to use the model for heat conversion from other sources, too, such as from the heat generated by running cars, boosting electricity during the daytime, too.