Upping the ante for expansion of solar power as an energy source, chemical engineers from Oregon State University are finding out how to make this renewable even more practical. Recent research has led to discoveries that use the sun for not only an ideal power source, but to assist in creating the solar energy components that start the process. This development could help lower the expenses involved in using this energy, speed production, and use environmentally safe materials for both solar devices and the internal energy needed to provide their power.
The researchers use what they dub a “continuous flow” microreactor which creates nanoparticle inks that produce solar cells with printing. To begin the process, a simulated sunlight is set on the solar microreactor to heat it quickly, which allows the accurately controlled temperature to help the quality of the end product. Artificial sunlight was used in these studies, though access to direct sunlight would lessen the cost of current techniques.
The research results were recently published by the chemistry journal RSC Advances. According to lead author and OSU chemical engineering professor Chih-Hung Chang, this newly discovered approach is environmentally conscious and if widely used should reduce the size of our carbon footprint. Their process can also synthesize solar energy materials in mere minutes, as opposed to others which could take as long as half an hour to two hours for completion which leads to the reduced cost.