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(Independent)   Scientists achieve a major breakthrough in reducing the cost of solar cell manufacture by replacing toxic & expensive cadmium with an ingredient found in bath salts. Though now there is a small risk the solar cells could freak out & eat your face off   (independent.co.uk ) divider line
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2697 clicks; posted to Geek » on 26 Jun 2014 at 2:46 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-06-26 11:36:15 AM  
Well as long as we don't give them teeth or stand too close, we should be fine.
 
2014-06-26 12:31:50 PM  
Nice.
 
2014-06-26 12:51:19 PM  
25.media.tumblr.com
 
2014-06-26 02:25:28 PM  

Sybarite: [25.media.tumblr.com image 400x288]


nice!
 
2014-06-26 02:53:48 PM  
Suck it Germany

/early adopters always get screwed
 
2014-06-26 02:55:53 PM  

madgonad: Suck it Germany

/early adopters always get screwed


Well, no.  Germany, like every one else, has been deploying Silicon panels.  They will continue to do so.  This development concerns Cadmium Telluride panels, which hardly anyone uses anyway.
 
2014-06-26 02:56:04 PM  
Did I miss the part of the article where they say they're getting rid of the cadmium telluride too? Cos that's also toxic, no?
 
2014-06-26 02:59:06 PM  

Hollie Maea: madgonad: Suck it Germany

/early adopters always get screwed

Well, no.  Germany, like every one else, has been deploying Silicon panels.  They will continue to do so.  This development concerns Cadmium Telluride panels, which hardly anyone uses anyway.


Sorry, too much world cup today
 
2014-06-26 02:59:23 PM  
Solar panels, you're soaking in them.
 
2014-06-26 03:03:00 PM  

madgonad: Hollie Maea: madgonad: Suck it Germany

/early adopters always get screwed

Well, no.  Germany, like every one else, has been deploying Silicon panels.  They will continue to do so.  This development concerns Cadmium Telluride panels, which hardly anyone uses anyway.

Sorry, too much world cup today


Eh, get with the times. We hate the Belgians now.
 
2014-06-26 03:06:39 PM  

Hollie Maea: madgonad: Suck it Germany

/early adopters always get screwed

Well, no.  Germany, like every one else, has been deploying Silicon panels.  They will continue to do so.  This development concerns Cadmium Telluride panels, which hardly anyone uses anyway.


But Cadmium Telluride Panels are Far lighter weight than silicon and  even though all the hazmat precautions you have to take using cadmium jack the price up, they are already slighter cheaper to make for large scale systems than silicon.   Replace the cadmium  with magnesium chloride and these thing become VERY cheap to make, from a materials and manufacturing standpoint,  become much greener, and have a much wider range of application than heavier silicon panels.  They will now probably dominate the market quickly if this pans out.
 
2014-06-26 03:10:06 PM  
Just to be clear, these Magnesium Chloride cells would compete with Cadmium Telluride in the thin film realm.  But that's a really small part of the market--less than ten percent.  And unlike the article states, it isn't a fast growing emerging sector.  At best, thin film market share is stagnating.  There really isn't an advantage to it, and the only reason it has a market share at all is because First Solar had a lot of momentum five years ago when polysilicon was in a speculative bubble, and they haven't managed to go out of business yet.

The best thing about Cadmium Telluride going away is that it will stop the mouth breathers who claim that solar panels are by necessity horribly toxic.  Oh who am I kidding; facts don't make a difference to those people.
 
2014-06-26 03:18:07 PM  
Magorn:

But Cadmium Telluride Panels are Far lighter weight than silicon

Who cares. Solar panels are used in stationary applications, where weight doesn't really matter.  Silicon panels are light enough to go on virtually any roof, so you don't gain much getting lighter.  Ok, maybe they are marginally easier to install.  But you have to install twice as many because the efficiency sucks.


they are already slighter cheaper to make for large scale systems than silicon.

The usage of the word "already" here is misleading.  Thin films used to have a big cost advantage over silicon, but the gap has largely evaporated and is getting smaller all the time.  When you take into account the lower efficiency and shorter lifespan, there isn't an advantage at all--which is why hardly anyone uses them.

Replace the cadmium  with magnesium chloride and these thing become VERY cheap to make

Call me when someone opens a production line, and we'll see.  They've been telling me about game changing thin film technologies for the last fifteen years.  Silicon is still the king for the foreseeable future.
 
2014-06-26 03:22:04 PM  

Hollie Maea: Just to be clear, these Magnesium Chloride cells would compete with Cadmium Telluride in the thin film realm.  But that's a really small part of the market--less than ten percent.  And unlike the article states, it isn't a fast growing emerging sector.  At best, thin film market share is stagnating.  There really isn't an advantage to it, and the only reason it has a market share at all is because First Solar had a lot of momentum five years ago when polysilicon was in a speculative bubble, and they haven't managed to go out of business yet.

The best thing about Cadmium Telluride going away is that it will stop the mouth breathers who claim that solar panels are by necessity horribly toxic.  Oh who am I kidding; facts don't make a difference to those people.


According to the article, cadmium telluride is still being employed in the PV's. It's the cadmium chloride that's being replaced.
 
2014-06-26 03:26:48 PM  
img.fark.net
 
2014-06-26 03:28:50 PM  

with great power comes great insanity: Did I miss the part of the article where they say they're getting rid of the cadmium telluride too? Cos that's also toxic, no?


Funny. Wikipedia says CdTe isn't toxic though the individual elements are.

Themoreyouknow.gif
 
2014-06-26 03:30:52 PM  

that bosnian sniper: Hollie Maea: Just to be clear, these Magnesium Chloride cells would compete with Cadmium Telluride in the thin film realm.  But that's a really small part of the market--less than ten percent.  And unlike the article states, it isn't a fast growing emerging sector.  At best, thin film market share is stagnating.  There really isn't an advantage to it, and the only reason it has a market share at all is because First Solar had a lot of momentum five years ago when polysilicon was in a speculative bubble, and they haven't managed to go out of business yet.

The best thing about Cadmium Telluride going away is that it will stop the mouth breathers who claim that solar panels are by necessity horribly toxic.  Oh who am I kidding; facts don't make a difference to those people.

According to the article, cadmium telluride is still being employed in the PV's. It's the cadmium chloride that's being replaced.


Yeah, for some reason the first time I opened the article I only got the first half, which wasn't very clear.

Color me even less impressed...Cadmium based cells need to go the way of the Dodo bird.  If we MUST do thin films, we should focus the efforts on amorphous Silicon.  With the number of Solar panels we need to be deploying, we can't afford to make them out of toxics.
 
2014-06-26 03:39:40 PM  
One less toxic item would be great.
btw, What are those tiny solar cells (phone recharger types) made of?
 
2014-06-26 03:42:48 PM  

Hollie Maea: Magorn:

But Cadmium Telluride Panels are Far lighter weight than silicon

Who cares. Solar panels are used in stationary applications, where weight doesn't really matter.  Silicon panels are light enough to go on virtually any roof, so you don't gain much getting lighter.  Ok, maybe they are marginally easier to install.  But you have to install twice as many because the efficiency sucks.


they are already slighter cheaper to make for large scale systems than silicon.

The usage of the word "already" here is misleading.  Thin films used to have a big cost advantage over silicon, but the gap has largely evaporated and is getting smaller all the time.  When you take into account the lower efficiency and shorter lifespan, there isn't an advantage at all--which is why hardly anyone uses them.

Replace the cadmium  with magnesium chloride and these thing become VERY cheap to make

Call me when someone opens a production line, and we'll see.  They've been telling me about game changing thin film technologies for the last fifteen years.  Silicon is still the king for the foreseeable future.


Rooftops are not the only application for SOlar cells,  Portable Solar is a handy thing to have for temporary set ups and the good folks in the aerospace industry would literally murder their mothers for something that does the same job for half the wieght
 
2014-06-26 03:53:59 PM  

Magorn: the good folks in the aerospace industry would literally murder their mothers


Well, they don't sound like very good folks to me!
 
2014-06-26 03:55:37 PM  

show me: Well, they don't sound like very good folks to me!


Who do you think designs airplane seats?
 
2014-06-26 03:56:14 PM  
Breakthrough in solar panel manufacture promises cheap energy within a decade

Man, if I had a nickel for everytime that exact headline has come up over the years... well, I could probably afford some solar panels.
 
2014-06-26 03:56:57 PM  

Magorn: .  Portable Solar is a handy thing to have for temporary set ups



Sure, there are probably some niche applications there.  VERY small part of the market though.

and the good folks in the aerospace industry would literally murder their mothers for something that does the same job for half the wieght

Aerospace guys don't even look at thin films, or even silicon for that matter.  FAR too low efficiency. They use exotic multijunction cells made out of stuff like Gallium Arsenide.
 
2014-06-26 03:57:39 PM  
that bosnian sniper:  According to the article, cadmium telluride is still being employed in the PV's.


Telluride, I mean it's here to stay
 
2014-06-26 04:20:50 PM  
Hollie Maea:

Dag nabbit, Hollie! There you go, elucidating how much smoke was being blown up my arse again. You guys know I thrive on being wrong!
 Example FTA: However, although cadmium telluride is seen as the future for solar energy, it is potentially dangerous after it is "activated" with cadmium chloride, a critical step in the manufacturing process that raises the efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity from about two per cent to 15 per cent or more.


This gave me the impression that silicon had an efficiency of 2%. What is that percentage currently, anyway? You might as well narc; you've already ruined it for me.

FTA: About 90 per cent of the solar panels currently in use are made of photovoltaic cells composed of silicon semiconductors, which convert sunlight directly into electricity. However, silicon is not good at absorbing sunlight which is why the next generation of PV cells will be based on a thin coating of cadmium telluride, which absorbs sunlight so well that it only needs to be about one hundredth of the thickness of silicon.

Thus, clearly, you don't know what your talking about, Hollie. Or this is very carefully worded press release designed to glitter for novices like myself. I like glitter; it reminds me of strippers.
 
2014-06-26 04:38:59 PM  

That Guy Jeff: Breakthrough in solar panel manufacture promises cheap energy within a decade

Man, if I had a nickel for everytime that exact headline has come up over the years... well, I could probably afford some solar panels.


Agreed.. heck, another few breakthroughs, they should actually be giving them away and a 4x6 panel should power a city.
 
2014-06-26 04:43:15 PM  

SewerSquirrels: Hollie Maea:

Dag nabbit, Hollie! There you go, elucidating how much smoke was being blown up my arse again. You guys know I thrive on being wrong!
 Example FTA: However, although cadmium telluride is seen as the future for solar energy, it is potentially dangerous after it is "activated" with cadmium chloride, a critical step in the manufacturing process that raises the efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity from about two per cent to 15 per cent or more.


This gave me the impression that silicon had an efficiency of 2%. What is that percentage currently, anyway? You might as well narc; you've already ruined it for me.



Your run of the mill Silicon line is outputting cells at around 20%.  SunPower, which is at the top of the heap, makes cells about 24 percent efficient.

FTA: About 90 per cent of the solar panels currently in use are made of photovoltaic cells composed of silicon semiconductors, which convert sunlight directly into electricity. However, silicon is not good at absorbing sunlight which is why the next generation of PV cells will be based on a thin coating of cadmium telluride, which absorbs sunlight so well that it only needs to be about one hundredth of the thickness of silicon.

Thus, clearly, you don't know what your talking about, Hollie. Or this is very carefully worded press release designed to glitter for novices like myself. I like glitter; it reminds me of strippers.


It's true that crystalline silicon takes a certain thickness to absorb light (specifically red light) which limits how thin it can be made.  On the other hand, this only matters if polysilicon is expensive.  Which it isn't. So talking about what the next generation of cells WILL be is a bit premature here, especially since thin film market share is projected to continue to fall. On the third hand, if you want to make thin film cells out of silicon, you can do so by using amorphous silicon.
 
2014-06-26 04:49:54 PM  

Hollie Maea: Sure, there are probably some niche applications there.  VERY small part of the market though.


This is just my opinion, but I believe the primary market for portable solar -- transportation -- hasn't even developed. Once more electric cars, vans, buses, or god forbid even trucks hit the market, I'd bet that niche gets a whole lot bigger, especially considering that here in NA building an infrastructure to support electric vehicles will take decades and a  shiatload of money (and overcoming fossil fuel corporations' chokehold on the government).
 
2014-06-26 04:53:35 PM  
would that also make them more recyclable in the long term?
 
2014-06-26 05:00:45 PM  
No Snark, just curious: what percentage of "Major Breakthroughs" in Solar actually have panned out?  It's obviously not zero, as Solar is not suffering like Fusion research is.
 
2014-06-26 05:02:50 PM  

Hollie Maea: Your run of the mill Silicon line is outputting cells at around 20%. SunPower, which is at the top of the heap, makes cells about 24 percent efficient.


Screw it. I'm going to make a triple junction gallium arsenide smoothy and work on my tan.
 
2014-06-26 05:03:20 PM  

that bosnian sniper: Hollie Maea: Sure, there are probably some niche applications there.  VERY small part of the market though.

This is just my opinion, but I believe the primary market for portable solar -- transportation -- hasn't even developed. Once more electric cars, vans, buses, or god forbid even trucks hit the market, I'd bet that niche gets a whole lot bigger, especially considering that here in NA building an infrastructure to support electric vehicles will take decades and a  shiatload of money (and overcoming fossil fuel corporations' chokehold on the government).


It make a lot more sense to put solar panels on your garage and to use that to offset your EV driving than to try it put PVs on the car.  There just isn't enough surface area.  If you managed to cover every bit of a Toyota Camry that you could with 20% efficient PVs, you would get less than 1.5kW of power, max.  But cruising down the freeway takes over ten times as much power.
 
2014-06-26 05:13:03 PM  

imfallen_angel: That Guy Jeff: Breakthrough in solar panel manufacture promises cheap energy within a decade

Man, if I had a nickel for everytime that exact headline has come up over the years... well, I could probably afford some solar panels.

Agreed.. heck, another few breakthroughs, they should actually be giving them away and a 4x6 panel should power a city.


4  mile by 6 mile panel....  that might be a bit trickey to manufacture.
 
2014-06-26 05:13:19 PM  

elchupacabra: No Snark, just curious: what percentage of "Major Breakthroughs" in Solar actually have panned out?  It's obviously not zero, as Solar is not suffering like Fusion research is.


The overwhelming amount of progress in solar has been incremental improvements, not "major breakthroughs".  But over the years, they have really added up.

CSB: In 1991, my family and I wandered off to an exceedingly remote place in Papua New Guinea, a good hundred miles from the nearest electricity service.  My dad bought some surplus panels that ARCO solar were selling off from a decommissioned test plant.  The nine solar panels added up to a total of 270 Watts.  In 2010, when I started working for what had once been ARCO solar, a single panel was outputting almost that much--255 Watts.  Granted, the panels were bigger...maybe twice as big as the 30 watt ones. But still, the output of 9 nearly matched by the equivalent of two.  But the general cell structure was extremely similar between the two.  Today, that same factory, after making a change that was bigger than any differences between the 1991 and 2010 versions, but still was not in the "major breakthrough"category, is making 285 watt modules.
 
2014-06-26 05:18:38 PM  

Hollie Maea: that bosnian sniper: Hollie Maea: Sure, there are probably some niche applications there.  VERY small part of the market though.

This is just my opinion, but I believe the primary market for portable solar -- transportation -- hasn't even developed. Once more electric cars, vans, buses, or god forbid even trucks hit the market, I'd bet that niche gets a whole lot bigger, especially considering that here in NA building an infrastructure to support electric vehicles will take decades and a  shiatload of money (and overcoming fossil fuel corporations' chokehold on the government).

It make a lot more sense to put solar panels on your garage and to use that to offset your EV driving than to try it put PVs on the car.  There just isn't enough surface area.  If you managed to cover every bit of a Toyota Camry that you could with 20% efficient PVs, you would get less than 1.5kW of power, max.  But cruising down the freeway takes over ten times as much power.


You get the extra power from the windmill attached to the roof.
 
2014-06-26 05:18:58 PM  

Hollie Maea: This development concerns Cadmium Telluride panels, which hardly anyone uses anyway.


The largest operating PV plant in the world is First Solar's 290MW Agua Caliente project in Arizona.
 
2014-06-26 05:35:37 PM  

flondrix: Hollie Maea: This development concerns Cadmium Telluride panels, which hardly anyone uses anyway.

The largest operating PV plant in the world is First Solar's 290MW Agua Caliente project in Arizona.


Sure, but this and a couple of other big southwest projects are pretty much the ONLY place these cells are going, and they are single handedly keeping First Solar in business.  And they were all planned a few years ago when they were still significantly cheaper than Silicon.  Really, it's a drop in the bucket...overall, the world installed 37GW of solar last year.  Well under 10 percent of that was thin film.
 
2014-06-26 06:02:24 PM  

ikanreed: show me: Well, they don't sound like very good folks to me!

Who do you think designs airplane seats?


Having flown from SF to NY and back in the last few days I feel I can answer this question.
my2ndheartbeat.files.wordpress.com
 
2014-06-26 06:48:47 PM  

Cpl.D: Can't we just replace the cadmium with mercury?


No, we need to keep dumping the mercury in the waters of the world.  How else are we going to get enough mercury from our seafood?
 
2014-06-26 07:11:28 PM  
Bath salts, is there anything it can't do?
 
2014-06-26 07:42:14 PM  

flondrix: Hollie Maea: This development concerns Cadmium Telluride panels, which hardly anyone uses anyway.

The largest operating PV plant in the world is First Solar's 290MW Agua Caliente project in Arizona.


I wondered what that was.
 
2014-06-26 08:24:55 PM  

that bosnian sniper: Hollie Maea: Sure, there are probably some niche applications there.  VERY small part of the market though.

This is just my opinion, but I believe the primary market for portable solar -- transportation -- hasn't even developed. Once more electric cars, vans, buses, or god forbid even trucks hit the market, I'd bet that niche gets a whole lot bigger, especially considering that here in NA building an infrastructure to support electric vehicles will take decades and a  shiatload of money (and overcoming fossil fuel corporations' chokehold on the government).


Aw hell naw. Ya ain't rollin' coal with solar. What's next? All electric spooky-quiet ATVs that don't disturb nature?
 
2014-06-26 08:35:15 PM  

Hollie Maea: It make a lot more sense to put solar panels on your garage and to use that to offset your EV driving than to try it put PVs on the car.  There just isn't enough surface area.  If you managed to cover every bit of a Toyota Camry that you could with 20% efficient PVs, you would get less than 1.5kW of power, max.  But cruising down the freeway takes over ten times as much power.


Yeah we went over this in the Tesla thread a month or two ago. Not to mention a nuclear thread or two a long while ago.

Quick rehash: in terms of commercial-scale and industrial-scale power generation, as solar is now it will  nevergenerate sufficient power. Not even solar thermal. The answer to that is "every little bit helps".

Why does logic this  not apply for transportation?
 
2014-06-26 09:04:12 PM  

that bosnian sniper: Hollie Maea: It make a lot more sense to put solar panels on your garage and to use that to offset your EV driving than to try it put PVs on the car.  There just isn't enough surface area.  If you managed to cover every bit of a Toyota Camry that you could with 20% efficient PVs, you would get less than 1.5kW of power, max.  But cruising down the freeway takes over ten times as much power.

Yeah we went over this in the Tesla thread a month or two ago. Not to mention a nuclear thread or two a long while ago.

Quick rehash: in terms of commercial-scale and industrial-scale power generation, as solar is now it will  nevergenerate sufficient power. Not even solar thermal. The answer to that is "every little bit helps".

Why does logic this  not apply for transportation?


I know I am a bit of a broken record in these threads...

My answer to this is the same one I give to the "Solar fricken roadways" crowd:  There are just so many better things to do with solar cells than put them on the roof of a car.  Our bottleneck for solar at the present and for the foreseeable future is not places to put them.  It is far cheaper to turn solar cells into panels and slap them on a roof or in a field than it is to integrate them into the body of an automobile.  And when in the former places, they will produce more electricity because they will in general have an optimized orientation towards the sun.  So let's deal with that low hanging fruit first.

Once we start getting to the point where it's super easy to build cells  and we don't know where to put them, then by all means let's start putting them in suboptimal places like on cars or roadways.  Because you are right-- every bit does count.
 
2014-06-26 09:07:10 PM  
So basically there are two possible outcomes for sustainable power generation going into the future.

1) Fusion Power.
2) Space Based Solar Power.

Both are incredibly technically challenging, but overall, fairly well understood. The challenges in deploying them range the gambit from material sciences, to economic concerns, but can be overcome in time.

I have no idea which one will become the dominate form of power in the future and it's likely that none of us alive will ever see this, but if I had to put money on it I'd give the nudge to the Space Based Solar Power set up because it wouldn't require significant investment in ground based infrastructure to distribute power efficiently and the supporting science and technologies (particularly reusable launch vehicles) is coming along at a faster pace and has more commercial investment from the private sector.

So, while any advancement in solar panel technology is noteworthy, it's likely that ground based solar will be made mostly irrelevant in the future. That being said, for the "here and now" it's worthwhile to pursue, not just for future applications, but because it does forestall the inevitable collapse of the fossil fuel based power economy.
 
2014-06-26 09:09:16 PM  
Good... Now maybe solar will actually be "good for the environment". As soon as we develop better batteries, I guess, but at least this part of the system is getting better. Everything has to start somewhere.
 
2014-06-26 10:09:02 PM  

Hollie Maea: There are just so many better things to do with solar cells than put them on the roof of a car.


Is there a limited supply of solar cells, to the point where we have to choose carefully where to put them for maximum utility?

I'd say the argument against putting them on cars, if that's the case, would be if you park indoors.  But even providing only 1/10 the cruising power to trickle charge the battery would be a great idea if you're parking outside, you could drive to work, park in the lot, and your car would be fully charged by the time you clock off.
 
2014-06-26 10:24:50 PM  

lindseyp: I'd say the argument against putting them on cars, if that's the case, would be if you park indoors.  But even providing only 1/10 the cruising power to trickle charge the battery would be a great idea if you're parking outside, you could drive to work, park in the lot, and your car would be fully charged by the time you clock off.


Not to mention, that amount of power is stretched a lot more if one is doing urban or residential driving that involves a great deal of stopping, idling, and lower cruising speeds, especially coupled with regenerative braking (flywheel or electrical, there's been a resurgence in interest in KERS for non-commercial and sports use the last few years).

It also could prove absolutely invaluable during roadside emergencies.
 
2014-06-26 11:32:19 PM  

Hollie Maea: It make a lot more sense to put solar panels on your garage and to use that to offset your EV driving than to try it put PVs on the car. There just isn't enough surface area. If you managed to cover every bit of a Toyota Camry that you could with 20% efficient PVs, you would get less than 1.5kW of power, max. But cruising down the freeway takes over ten times as much power.


How much of a charge to your batteries will there be while your car is parked in a parking lot for 8 hours a day while you are at work?
 
2014-06-27 12:01:12 AM  
ReverendJynxed:

Aw hell naw. Ya ain't rollin' coal with solar.

I've spec'ed out my fantasy electric truck that I want to build to pull the axles off of coal rollin tough guys...

It would have this Siamese 11 inch DC monster motor:

http://store.evtv.me/proddetail.php?prod=siamese

Powered by Shiva, the Destroyer of worlds:

http://www.evnetics.com/evnetics-products/soliton-shiva/

And a 100kWh battery pack capable of supplying 1600hp.

But I don't have the 75 grand or so I would need to build it.  Maybe I should crowd source it or something.
 
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