You might be thinking that a solar panel that can work during the night, while there is no sunlight available it’s a crazy idea. But now it’s a thing! An engineering professor at the University of California (UC) is currently working on creating a panel that uses shadow to produce energy, instead of sunlight. This is known as an anti-solar panel as well.
The idea is based on pure physics, the technology that will be used by this ‘anti-panel’ is the same that the one implemented by the solar panels, but on the contrary. The conventional panel function consists in having a lower temperature than the air and absorbing the sunlight. This one, on the other hand, will have a higher temperature than the air, which will produce infrared light.
Before we try to understand how this new technology will work, we first need to be clear about how conventional panels work. The solar cells of a conventional panel absorb sunlight, which causes power production and the voltage appears in the device, starting the current to flow. The head of this study, professor Jeremy Munday explained that these new cells will emit light instead of absorbing it, causing the voltage and current flow in the opposite direction. The process is reversed and different materials will be used, but it will work for generating electricity.
Euronews tried to explain better the process to those who are not very physics-friendly. They used as an example: “When you open your windows and doors after a hot day to cool down your house. Essentially this form of passive cooling uses the night sky as a massive heat sink, drawing warmth away from the earth once it gets dark.”
As we’re talking about a brand-new technology, it still has some issues. And for anti-solar panels, their efficiency is an issue. Professor Munday declared that these cells are able to produce a quarter of the total capacity of a conventional panel during the day. In other words, it’s up to 50 watts of power per square meter. However, they can be used at any time, not only during the day, which means a great advantage.
Despite solar panels have higher levels of efficiency, the anti-solar can work 24/7 and they don’t have as many limitations as conventional ones. as the professor, Munday said: “Nobody wants to lose power once the sun sets.” This characteristic is due to it’s “thermal radioactive cell”, who can continue working even during the day, by just being placed pointed away from the sunlight.
The University of California’s professor declared to be currently working on improving cell functioning, in order to make it more durable and useful. It is important to keep in mind that non-renewable sources energy has been on constant improvements for more than 10 years, and it’s still improving.
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