With gasoline and other fuel prices soaring over the years, the future lies in the hand of solar energy. By harvesting the power harnessed from the sun, numerous crisis that are faced today can be easily resolved. At the upper atmosphere, the earth receives approximately 174 petawatts of energy, which is more than sufficient to cater to global energy needs. If people rely on solar panels, only 0.0005% of the earth would need to be covered for everyone's needs to be met. As a result, numerous advancements have been made in the industry. The future of solar panels lies in solar cells that are made from biomass-derived materials.
Benefits of Advancements Towards Biomass-Derived Solar Cells
Solar panels are made up of solar cells. Currently, most solar panels are made from expensive metals like ruthenium, which is quite similar to platinum. Ruthenium costs approximately $1286 per kilogram, which has contributed to the high costs of solar panels. Ruthenium is not easily available, which has also been a toll on the production of solar panels as well.
In an attempt to reduce the overall cost of producing solar panels and in order to improve overall production rates with easily accessible materials, scientists at Queen Mary University of London have been able to successfully create biomass-derived solar cells made from shrimp cells. The benefits do not only stop there. Biomass-derived solar cells are quick and easy to produce, especially since the production process is extremely simple, and is also made from sustainable materials that do not cause a huge negative impact on the environment. These solar cells can be incorporated into a wealth of different technology from solar panels that are designed specifically to power homes to wearable chargers that are designed for tablets, phones and other electronic devices.
How Biomass-Derived Solar Cells Are Made
The technology for producing and creating biomass-derived solar cells is extremely new, and has only been discovered recently. Crustacean shells contain an abundance of materials like chitin and chitosan. These materials can be carbonized in a process known as hydrothermal carbonization. Hydrothermal carbonization is a thermo-chemical process that basically converts biomass into separate chemical and physical properties by placing the biomass materials at elevated temperatures and pressure in water. This process is also known as a form of integrated biorefinery.
Hydrothermal carbonization of biomass-derived materials from crustacean shells produces carbon quantum dots. These dots are coated with standard zinc oxide nano rods in order to produce solar cells. These solar cells are able to capture solar energy and convert it into usable energy in solar panels. The solar cells are relatively small and can be grouped together in various sizes in order to achieve the desired effect and the desired size. This method has also been used on other types of biomass materials, like algae, and shown to be effective.
Biomass-Derived Solar Cells on the Market
As the technology is relatively new, it has yet to be released on the market, especially since the scientists are still exploring and experimenting with different methods that can improve the overall efficiency and performance of the solar cells before releasing it as a marketable prototype.
Be on the lookout for biomass-derived solar cells and solar panels in the near future. Once these prototypes hit the market, solar energy will be much more easily attainable, and the solar panels will be cheap and easy to install. Solar panels do not necessarily have to be used to harness power for residential buildings. With this latest invention, the solar panels can be designed to be relatively small, but still have the power and capacity that electronic devices needed. It will truly revolutionize the market.