University of Missouri Research Team Developing “Nantenna” Technology To Capture 90 Per Cent of Available Solar Energy
A University of Missouri research team is taking a new approach in capturing solar energy. Traditional photovoltaic solar cells, which convert sunlight directly to electricity, only collect around 20 per cent of available light. The MU team has developed a thin, flexible sheet of small antennas — called nantennas — which can currently harvest heat from industrial processes and convert it into electricity. Their goal is to develop this technology so it will be able to harvest over 90 per cent of the available energy that comes from the sun.
Rick Pinhero, the team leader says, “”Our overall goal is to collect and utilize as much solar energy as is theoretically possible and bring it to the commercial market in an inexpensive package that is accessible to everyone. If successful, this product will put us orders of magnitudes ahead of the current solar energy technologies we have available to us today.”
Because the film is flexible it should be very versatile and easy to apply to surface areas that face the sun such as roofs, vehicles and existing solar farms.
The group is seeking funding from the US Department of Energy and private investors so that they can commercialize the process. Once funding is secure, the team anticipates that commercial applications of the technology will be available within five years.
The group has published a study on the design and manufacturing of their technology in the Journal of Solar Energy Engineering