Plastic breakthrough could revolutionise energy generation

Filed under: Industry News — Posted by: Barry on April 10, 2013

In keeping with the country’s increasing focus on research into green technologies, Scientists in Brazil have used plastic sheets to develop a new type of solar panel which could revolutionise energy production.

The panel, which appears to be just a basic, flexible plastic sheet, actually converts light from the sun into electricity using photovoltaic cells. The new material is an improvement on the heavier silicon solar panels currently used.

The scientists have been working from the research institute CSEM Brasil, which is based in Minas Gerais. They produced the panel by integrating photovoltaic cells with common polymers.

The technology involved in creating these cells has been worked on in the US and Europe over the last few years and was taken to Brazil to develop even further. Those behind the “solar plastic” are saying that it could be seen as a minor revolution in how energy is sourced cleanly from the sun.

The institute’s chairman, Tiago Maranhão Alves, who worked on the project, said:

“A panel with a surface area of two or three square metres could be sufficient to generate the energy needed in a house lived in by a family of four.

“Because of its good cost-benefit ratio, it could also be an option for bringing energy to remote areas without electric power service. In Brazil (with a population of over 192 million) there are still close to a million places in this situation.”

It is thought that the new technology could be used in smaller devices, such as mobile phones and tablet computers – meaning people across the world could soon be directly affected.

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