A new kind of solar power

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 11:52

Water has the ability to make many inefficient processes more effective. It's used in radiant heaters to warm houses and commercial buildings with a fraction of the energy compared to other methods, like convection heating. But the best heating system isn't the only eco-friendly technology water can help improve upon.Solar panels have come a long way in recent years thanks to a renewed vigor for sustainable energy. However, panels can sometimes be very large, as they need to produce enough of the required energy they are supplementing.
A sphere of water

According to Gizmag, the company Rawlemon has developed a much more aesthetically pleasing incarnation of a solar panel that only needs 1 percent of the normally required surface for its solar cells. This allows them to shrink down the solar panel tremendously. The reason for this advancement is due to the design of the solar charger, which relies on an acrylic sphere filled with water. The inventor was inspired by his daughter's marbles, the small solar panel is located inside the sphere and the sunlight absorbed is focused thanks to the water. This concentrates the energy of the sun to around 10,000 times what it normally is, reported Jetson Green.
The sphere can rotate and is fitted with a tracking system to ensure it always receives the maximum amount of sunlight. Other solar panels are fixed to a single location and are rendered relatively useless once the sun moves out of view or is obstructed. The project is not without its flaws, though. Because of the size of the glass sphere and the weight of the water, not many roofs can support it.
Practical and future use

Through a publicly funded project, Rawlemon is looking to create a miniature-sized version of this innovation that is small enough to fit on someone's desk or window. This small solar charger would be used for gadgets such as mobile phones, tablets or even laptops.
This advancement in solar technology provides those who have been concerned about what the appearance of dozens of solar panels would look like adorning their houses with a much more appealing alternative. Implementing this technology could pave the way for sustainable energy at even more locations that don't have the luxury of long and flat surfaces. It has the potential to reduce a homeowner's carbon footprint while also leading the charge to create even more efficient solar panels.