Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Solar-Powered Metalworking

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 09:58 AM PDT

Solar power has as many applications as any other type of electricity, but it has been specifically adapted in a number of ways. BINE Information Services in Germany has recently released a report on yet another specific adaptation of solar power – metalworking.

Since industrial process heating is responsible for about 10% of Germany's total electricity consumption, on the surface it seems like a natural choice for solar energy. In the town of Ennepetal, a metal processing plant has integrated 12 TVP (thermophotovoltaic) collectors – which track the sun's position – into its existing steam network to take advantage of solar technology. The process is still in its early stages, and further testing and optimizing are planned. It is hoped that the procedures developed here will be particularly useful in more southern climates.

BINE's report focuses on saturated steam – which is steam that is in equilibrium with heated water at the same pressure – which is used in many industrial production processes at a temperature of about 200°C. In the pilot plant in Ennepetal, absorbers in parabolic trough collectors directly produce steam. Without the parabolic trough collectors to concentrate the solar power, it is difficult if not impossible to generate steam at temperatures above 100°C. Using the collectors also makes it possible to avoid a specialized heat exchanger, which improves efficiency. The steam is then used, for example, to quickly heat various chemical baths to a variety of temperatures between 60°C and 110°C (here, for aluminum refinement). Again, the solar steam generators have been directly integrated into the existing systems.

The initial results are labeled by BINE as promising – while not much power was actually generated by the solar arrays, the integration was successful and power was produced. The groundwork has been laid for further long-term testing of what BINE calls a promising procedure for solar steam generation. Other potential uses for solar steam generation include desiccation processes, refrigeration, anything that uses conventional electricity.

BINE's project information report – alliteratively titled "The Sunny Side of Saturated Steam" – is available for download from their website at no charge.

Source | Picture: Oekonews.at.

3D Solar’s 3-D Solar Cell Could Change the Economics of Solar Power

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 09:34 AM PDT

Santa Barbara’s Solar3D Inc. announced that it’s completed the design and is on track to complete a prototype of a “super-efficient” 3-D solar cell by the end of 2011. Holding out the promise of substantially increasing solar cell conversion efficiencies, the company believes its 3-D solar cell design “will dramatically change the economics of solar energy.”

The solar cell’s three-dimensional design traps sunlight “inside micro-photovoltaic (PV) structures, where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons,” the company explains. The 3-D structure significantly reduces electron loss, which hinders 2-D solar cells’ conversion efficiencies. The idea for the design was inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices.

“The completion of our prototype design is a key milestone toward bringing our next generation solar cell to market. It is taken our team a year of intensive research, development, and simulation. When complete, the production of this solar cell will transform the industry and the way consumers think about solar power and its applications,” CEO Jim Nelson said in a press release.

Solar3D in May announced that it had completed all the 3-D solar cell’s design elements, and had made adjustments making it better suited for mass manufacturing.

“Our objective is to make solar power affordable and available to the world. The development our new solar cell technology will allow the solar industry to generate power on an economically competitive basis in addition to its other advantages over traditionally-sourced power,” Nelson added. “Our manufacturing-oriented engineers are creating a product that is not only much more efficient but relatively inexpensive to produce in mass quantities.”

“By substantially increasing efficiency and retaining a low production cost, we will be able to contribute significantly to the industry’s pursuit of the SunShot initiative laid out by Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu, to bring the cost of solar electricity to grid parity.”

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