Could Spray-On Solar Panels be the future of energy? There are many institutions and companies that are currently developing spray-on solar panels for mass production. Since spray-on solar panels can be used on uneven surfaces, this could hugely widen the amount of materials it could be used on to create renewable energy worldwide. 

What Are Spray-On Solar Panels?

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Spray-on solar panels are made from nanoparticles that absorb light and conduct electricity.  The nanoparticles come from two common elements: phosphorus and zinc. The elements are combined and processed into a liquid which can be sprayed onto solar cells.  The particles can also be dissolved to form an ink to be used in spray-coating or roll-to-roll printing.  The ink is processed into thin films that are responsive to light.

Some of the benefits of spray-on solar panels include making manufacturing more affordable. This is because the product is made with a plastic compound instead of the expensive silicone found in traditional solar blue paneling. The spray-on cells are also easier to install, making costly solar panel installation fees a thing of the past. Since spray-on solar panels are easy to apply and have a cost efficient manufacturing process, they could be made available for widespread use and facilitate the introduction of solar cells to a variety of surfaces including automobiles, computers, apparel, and other uneven surfaces. 

Buriak explains why this new technology is important, “half the world already lives off the grid, and with demand for electrical power expected to double by the year 2050, it is important that renewable energy sources like solar power are made more affordable, by lowering the costs of manufacturing.”  The spray-on solar cell technology presents a low-cost, mass manufacturing solution, which makes the technology accessible to those living in developing countries.

What Impact Could Spray-On Solar Panels Have Globally?

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There are many institutions around the world currently developing solar panel spray. One example involved a team of researchers at the University of Central Florida, who say that their new AI’s work on a special liquid called “perovskite” could one day be used to create spray-on solar cells. These “perovskite solar cells” (PSCs) would turn sunlight into energy, just like regular silicon-based solar panels. The team developed their recipe for spray-on solar cells by feeding a machine learning algorithm hundreds of data points from peer-reviewed publications about perovskite. By doing so, the system was able to predict which recipes would work best.

The team currently hopes that their machine-learning technique will give the solar panel spray the flexibility and efficiency it needs to function without being too expensive. Their research was further detailed in a paper published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Meanwhile, another team of researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) developed solar paint that generates energy from water vapor

This paint works by absorbing moisture from the air with the synthetic molybdenum-sulphide that it contains, and uses solar energy to break the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, with help from the paint’s titanium oxide. The hydrogen can then be used to produce clean energy.

There are also companies that have developed their own spray-on technology, such as New Energy Technologies, Inc. New Energy Technologies has SolarWindow™ technology has spray-on technology that can transform everyday surfaces, such as windows, into energy-generating devices using both natural and artificial light sources, outperforming today’s commercial solar and thin-film technologies by as much as 10-fold under low-intensity irradiance.

New Energy researchers have developed a working prototype of the Company’s SolarWindow™ technology in preparation for eventual full-scale production. Their recently announced objectives for further development include low production costs, improved manufacturability, and increased power performance.  Key to these advances is the development of new methods and technologies for applying New Energy’s electricity-generating coatings to glass surfaces.

What Impact Could Spray-On Solar Panels Have In Canada And KW?

There is also much research and development being done in Canada for spray-on solar panels as well. Scientist Jillian Buriak and her team of researchers from the University of Alberta are working on an experiment to produce solar cells from elements found inside the Earth’s crust. The experiment combined phosphorus and zinc, and the team found that this combination absorbed light and produced energy. 

Buriak and her colleagues published a description of their solar cell-making process in a recent issue of the scientific journal ACS Nano. So far, her team has only made very small solar cells from their zinc phosphide nanoparticles, but they recently received funding from the Alberta government to apply the coating to larger sheets of plastic.

Though spray-on solar panels are still hugely in development, it is possible that they could become part of the future energy once they are more widely mass-produced. What do you think of spray-on solar panels? Let us know by tagging us at @SustainableWat!

702 thoughts on “Research Recap: Spray-On Solar Panels

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