Solar cells are still touted as one of the most important technologies in energy production due to their ability, in theory, to generate endless amounts of energy. In fact, a solar cell is only active during the day, even requiring enough sunlight for it to produce electricity. To solve the problem of “creating clean energy in the night”, scientists have found a new solution.
New technology called anti-solar panel, roughly translated as resistance-solar cells. It does not use sunlight to operate, but can generate electricity from the heat discharged by the Earth back into the atmosphere during cooling every night. Electricity is generated from heat through a thermoelectric generator.
Generators can turn heat into electricity through a thermoelectric effect: the temperature difference between two conductors / superconductors can make a difference in their voltage, i.e. potentially generating electricity. A team of Stanford University scientists used this effect to generate 2.2 watts of electricity per square meter of resistance to the solar cell; they installed the system on a test roof to prove the technology works.
The 2.2-watt figure is not much, but it is still a remarkable number considering that the anti-solar system uses only the heat generated by the Earth during the night to generate electricity. According to the scientists behind the system, solar-resistant panels can light up cities at night at a low cost.
This group of researchers is not the first to test solar-resistant technology: earlier this year, another team from the University of California, Davis, was building capable solar cells. generate electricity at night without the need for sunlight.
The study author Jeremy Munday said: “You have the heat energy from the Sun transmitted to the Earth and the solar cell will collect that energy. So basically, you need two objects with different temperatures and some way to convert that energy source. The same goes for this device that operates at night. We need a body as hot as the Earth and a body as cold as space. Because the heat spreads from the Earth out into space. So we can take that heat source and convert it to electricity“.
And Stanford scientists are confident that their solar-cell resistance system is more efficient than previous experiments, and can produce 120 times more energy than older systems. They emphasize how easy it is to scale up the system, since a thermoelectric generator is only a small part of the power station.
A device that tests generating electricity through heat radiated from the body.
Solar-cell resistance can “live well” in sunny places, because even when the sun is off, the heat in the air is still plenty, enough to operate the generator. However, at the present time, this technology is still hypothetical.
“We are developing a generator for people – that can power growing places, rural areas away from the center.“The team at Stanford said. But neither their work nor the team from the University of California, Davis, is not a reliable source of electricity in the near future: Jeremy Munday’s system produces only a fraction of the electricity compared to a solar panel. The sun is conventional, and Munday also states that solar energy is the result of decades of research, while solar-cell resistance is still an early technology.
But if development goes well, these solar-cell-resistant panels could solve the problem of wasting heat on industrial production lines. It is even possible to install them on the roof, not unlike current solar cell technology but with the potential to produce electricity 24/7.
The energy industry will still see many breakthroughs in the future, just wait and see.