‘Cost-effective solar panels’ could be the perfect window for solar power to reign over fossil fuels. The invention of a new synthetic material could play a significant role in transforming solar power into a much more cost-effective one. Other than just reducing the price, the new synthetic material could also increase the efficiency and reliability of solar energy.
The current challenge in replacing the non-renewable sources of energy generation is the energy output. Fossil fuels, unfortunately, have more electrical output compared to solar energy. It would become much easier to replace the conventional non-renewable source of energy with solar energy if the latter has the efficiency to match the energy output of the former. The innovation of new products that can absorb more amount of heat could be the answer here.
Inside the power plant
Unlike the ones we see on a hybrid car, the solar panels used for running a solar power plant are massive. These massive panels absorb heat (thermal energy). The absorbed energy is channeled into a fluid-filled converter known as the heat exchanger. The medium of this energy conversion is sCO2, Supercritical carbon dioxide. The sCO2 is the liquid form of CO2 (carbon dioxide). There is quite an increase in energy production as a result of hotter fluid. Scientists have foreseen new inventions of technologies that could use sCO2 as the medium fluid in power plants. This new era of solar power plants will have greater efficiency lowering the manufacturing and electricity costs.
More efficient and durable
The materials used in making the heat exchangers in sCO2 cycles are extremely reliable. Dorrin Jarrahbashi, Texas A&M University said that these metal materials are known to be stable up to 550°C. There is no loss of effectiveness as the components don’t break down till 550°C.
To resolve this component break down issue, researchers have developed a new composite material. This new material is a refractory metal composed of ceramic and tungsten, known to be stable even at temperatures over 750°C. The efficiency increase margin of integrated solar and sCO2power plants would be as high as 20%.
Huge scope for researchers
The new material is not only durable and more energy efficient but also reduces the construction and maintenance expenses of solar power plants. Using the material for the manufacturing of heat exchangers was a significant step towards reducing the green gas emissions. This was also a very important step in putting up a direct competition with the conventional and non-renewable fossil fuel power plants. The applications of this new composite are countless. The chemical, thermal and mechanical characteristics of the composite promises a wide range of applications and the implications of this great innovation are sure to stretch far into the future of research.
Intelizon Energy is setting new standards for ‘Energy-efficient’ solar energy products by combining solar energy with lithium-ion, LED and advanced electronics technology. Solar energy based products from Intelizon are more efficient, cost-effective and more reliable.