Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Solar Cell Design Harvests Sun from All Sides

A drawback to most solar panels is they are flat. That means when the sun moves across the sky their efficiency drops when the sun moves out of range. A new "hemispherical" solar cell solves that problem by having collection units around all sides of a dome.

Japanese company Kyosemi has been working with micro solar cells that come in non-traditional shapes. Their Sphelar range, working with domes or spheres offers a few interesting options.

In one version the domed shaped micro cells are attached to another dome or hemisphere.

There are a variety of benefits to this multi-layered design shift to rounded cells. It means the mini dome shaped collection units don't need to move to capture sunlight, making full use of the sun's rays. These mini domes are located on a hemispheric base unit that also maximizes the exposure to the sun.

The unique shape reduces the need for motors that often turn the flat panels
, and because they units aren't flat they require less surface area and can pack more units into a smaller space.

Kyosemi also has spherical cells attached to pliable flat surfaces. With the surfaces able to bend into a variety of directions they can be mounted on a diverse amount of surfaces. And, with the rounded collection units they can collect sun from all sides.

The company reports that these new commercial units are able to yield energy earlier in the morning and later in the evening than standard flat units.

The rethink certainly goes a long way to making solar energy more accessible and functional as we look towards a future of alternative energy sources.


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