Clear Solar Panels | Innovation Nation

solar panels have been around since the
1950s we put them on rooftops to collect sunlight turn that sunlight into usable
electricity they’re not always pretty to look at but they work the challenge has been the cost it takes a whole lot of solar
panels to generate enough electricity to power a home or building so researchers
at Michigan State University in Lansing have been working hard to figure out an
alternative to traditional solar panels I spoke with MSU research scientist
Dr. Richard Lunt about his invisible innovation to harness the sun’s energy hi
there Richard good to see you hey it’s great to be here Mo my understanding is that we continue using fossil fuels over solar power because solar power is still
too expensive to convert into usable power that’s exactly right there’s
enough solar energy to power the whole world many thousands of times but we
just don’t do it because it costs too much in the 1970s scientists discovered
that you can trap the sun’s energy in glass or plastic using special colored
dyes that absorb light rays and direct them to the edges of a glass plate where
attached solar cells can convert the lights energy into electricity in this
case to power a small fan imagine if all the glass in your home could be a power
source just like this glass plate unfortunately you’d have to color coat
or dye every window in your house to produce significant energy so your view
would be tinted green yellow or red Dr. Lunt’s challenge was to develop a
dye for glass that could absorb a lot of light and still let you see outside in
other words a clear dye this required some crazy chemical engineering I heard
that you and your students designed new molecules for your clear solar panels
how do you even do that so you rely on inspiration from nature and you take
molecules that we have found and we try to make them do something new and
exploit those properties to make a new kind of application a new kind of solar cell after two years of experimentation Dr.
Lunt and his team have discovered a formula for creating a clear light
energy absorbing dye as of now a glass plate painted with Dr. Lunt’s clear dye
absorbs about 20% of the light that hits it do you envision a future
where glass buildings power themselves absolutely even with the metrics that we
are able to achieve today this looks like a very good energy savings saving
some buildings as much as 10 to 50 percent of their energy consumption it
won’t be the only solution but we see it as being a very important solution
thanks Richard I think we all look forward to homes that come with power
windows as standard equipment

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