Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Colourful idea sparks renewable electricity from paint

06.03.2008
Researchers at Swansea University are developing a new, eco-friendly technology that could generate as much electricity as 50 wind farms.

Dr Dave Worsley, a Reader in the Materials Research Centre at the University’s School of Engineering, is investigating ways of painting solar cells onto the flexible steel surfaces commonly used for cladding buildings.

“We have been collaborating with the steel industry for decades,” explains Dr Worsely, “but have tended to focus our attention on improving the long-term durability and corrosion-resistance of the steel. We haven’t really paid much attention to how we can make the outside of the steel capable of doing something other than looking good.

“One of our Engineering Doctorate students was researching how sunlight interacts with paint and degrades it, which led to us developing a new photovoltaic method of capturing solar energy.”

Unlike conventional solar cells, the materials being developed at Swansea are more efficient at capturing low light radiation, meaning that they are better suited to the British climate.

A research grant from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Welsh Energy Research Centre (WERC) enabled Dr Worsley to work with leading metals group Corus to investigate the feasibility of developing an efficient solar cell system that can be applied to steel building products.

The success of the study led to the award of a three-year project worth over £1.5 million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Swansea University is now leading a partnership with Bangor University, University of Bath, and the Imperial College London to develop commercially viable photovoltaic materials for use within the steel industry.

Paint is applied to steel when it is passed through rollers during the manufacturing process, and it is hoped that the same approach can be used to build up layers of the solar cell system. The researchers’ aim is to produce cells that can be painted onto a flexible steel surface at a rate of 30-40m2 a minute.

Dr Worsley believes that the potential for the product is immense.

He said: “Corus Colours produces around 100 million square metres of steel building cladding a year. If this was treated with the photovoltaic material, and assuming a conservative 5% energy conversion rate, then we could be looking at generating 4,500 gigawatts of electricity through the solar cells annually. That’s the equivalent output of roughly 50 wind farms.”

Dr Worsley will be working closely with Corus to research practical, cost-efficient methods of mounting the system on steel structures, with a view to the eventual commercialisation of the product.

He said: “This project is a superb example of the value of collaboration between universities and industry, and it is definitely important for Wales. We have a genuine opportunity to ensure that Wales remains at the forefront of this technology worldwide, driving the industry and revolutionising our capacity to generate electricity.

“I think it shows great vision from the Welsh Assembly Government that they funded the initial feasibility study. Even if we are only mildly successful with this project, there is no doubt that we will be creating an exciting hi-tech steel product that will preserve the long term future of the Welsh steel industry.”

For more information about the School of Engineering at Swansea University visit http://www.swan.ac.uk/engineering/

Bethan Evans | alfa
Further information:
http://www.swan.ac.uk/engineering/

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht More reliable operation offshore wind farms
23.08.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zuverlässigkeit und Mikrointegration IZM

nachricht Scientists develop a metamaterial for applications in magnonics
22.08.2019 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films

Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.

The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...

Im Focus: Physicists create world's smallest engine

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making small intestine endoscopy faster with a pill-sized high-tech camera

23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering

More reliable operation offshore wind farms

23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tracing the evolution of vision

23.08.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>