New Material Converts More Sunlight to Heat Than Ever Before

Science
Sunlight into heat

New nanoparticle based material converts and absorbs 90% more sunlight to heat

We are all about helping the environment and finding new possible ways, how to sustain our living without damaging our planet more. The scientists from the US are same. They developed material, which can absorb sunlight and convert it to heat. This will help concentrating solar power (CPS) run for much longer. The material is massive step forward to make solar energy a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Power plants as we know them now, burn coal or fossil fuel in order to create heat, which is in the form of steam. This steam then turns a giant turbine and after that, the turbine generates electricity from spinning magnets and conductor wire coils. CPS plants are one of the most promising clean energy technologies. They also can create the steam that turbine needs by using sunlight to heat molten salt.

The first CPS plant like this was installed in Australia and it already proved that steam that CPS plants produce is hot enough so it can replace fossil fuels. Most CPS plants are using large mirrors that can concentrate sunlight at a tower that has been painted with a light-absorbing black paint material. Another great thing about electricity created in this way is that this electricity, from the power of the Sun, can be fed directly into existing grid. Mirrors can be also used on cloudy days so this overcomes many of the issues of solar panels.

Traditional solar panels are much less efficient on cloudy days

Traditional solar panels are much less efficient on cloudy days

On the other side, this material that is currently used has one big downside. It has to be re-applied once a year. This means, that CPS plants are shut down and no power can be generated. Scientists took this as a challenge and developed a material that has longer life and allows actual conversion of sunlight into heat. This happened in University of California. This “multiscale” material is covered in thousands of scale-like particles ranging from 10 nanometres to 10 micrometres. The material is able to stand against temperatures of more than 700 degrees Celsius which allows it to more efficiently catch a sunlight. Toleration towards humidity is also improved. This allows the material to survive for many years outdoors, but what is more important, it can convert more than 90 percent of captured sunlight to heat.

“We wanted to create a material that absorbs sunlight that doesn’t let any of it escape. We want to black hole of sunlight, ” said Sungho Jin. He is the engineer and one of the researchers that are working on this project.

CPS plants can produce around 3.5 gigawatt-hours of power per year. This is enough for more than million households. The team continues their research, and they hope that they will prove, that solar energy is not just cheaper, but that it is more efficient.

Don’t forget to check out related articles such as the one about the world’s largest thermal solar plant or the world’s frist solar-powered tree

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Michaela Miklusak

Michaela Miklusak is deputy editor of TechandFacts.com and big technology enthusiast. Michaela now lives in Singapore, where she studies System Engineering and Informatics. michaelam@techandfacts.com

2 Comments to New Material Converts More Sunlight to Heat Than Ever Before

  1. please tell something about the material ..its chemical formula etc..
    it is on high demand…..

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