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Innovation Simple, Cheap Frame To Boost Solar Cell Efficiency

Scientists have designed a metal framework that increases the quantity of sunlight captured with a solar cell, improving its energy generation by nearly one third. The cheap, simple and innovative method can increase solar energy recorded for individuals in developing nations, as well as distant regions which are off the grid, the researchers said. In Uganda, between 20 to 25 percent of individuals don’t have any access to power, said Beth Parks, an associate professor at Colgate University in the US. One solar cell supplies enough energy to power lights and controls mobile phones and radios.

That is a big quality-of-life advancement, said Parks. While solar power panels supply a clean source of renewable energy, they’re usually mounted on a fixed framework and just optimally oriented towards the sun during hours of the day. Parks previously watched a design for a framework that would permit the solar panel to monitor the sun. Nevertheless, the design had been analyzed to see how it really performed. Nor has it been optimized to ensure commercial viability and acceptance. Parks worked with pupils in University of Mbarara Science and Technology in Uganda to design a framework utilizing metal tube that a local welder could easily access and assemble.

We’ve created a framework using cheap materials which allows the solar power panels to monitor the bow of the sun through the day,” Parks said. This strategy might makes solar energy more affordable to families and small business in developing countries she said. In her plan, a bucket of stones is placed on the west side of the framework and a bucket of water is placed on the east side. Employing a controlled escape from the water bucket, the burden changes and the panel slowly rotates from east to west through the day. Parks and her staff analyzed the design on 20 arbitrary days in Uganda.

The solar cell on the movable frame recorded 30 percent more sun compared to static solar cell at the same location. If this framework is adopted, it’s the capability to create a little industry for the local community, Parks said. According to Parks, the expense of the system, the solar panel, battery, charger and framework, is about 10 percent under a comparable rooftop solar cell system.