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(Phys Org2)   Scientists find all new way to harvest solar energy, and all you need is solid gold   ( phys.org) divider line
    More: Unlikely, solar energy, Nature Nanotechnology, chemical engineer, UC Santa Barbara, harvesting, charged particles, titanium dioxides, chemistry  
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4225 clicks; posted to Geek » on 25 Feb 2013 at 8:19 AM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-02-25 04:01:38 PM  
1 vote:

Tommy Moo: I work in alternative energy, and I will never understand the effort going into PV. You can spend millions of dollars developing Indium-Gallium-Arsenic doped semiconductor triple junction solar cells, and they will never, ever be as energy efficient as taking a tub of water, painting it black, pointing a couple of $30 mirrors at it, and setting a steam turbine above it. Solar thermal routinely achieves greater than 80% energy efficiency. It's insane to ever use any other form of solar energy.

The inefficiency is built in elsewhere.  Heat is a lower "grade" of energy than electricity; electricity can be converted into work at near 100 percent efficiency, while heat is limited by the carnot cycle.  So unless you are using the heat directly (to keep things warm) then you lose when you convert it to electricity or work.  And since we need far more energy for work than for heat, solar thermal is limited.  In the last year or two, PV became cheaper than solar thermal for creating electricity, and so a number of planned solar thermal plants switched to PV.
2013-02-25 03:52:20 PM  
1 vote:
I think the reason PV is so attractive to many is it's perceived (by the end user) simplicity.   Just point it at the sun and you get usable energy in a form that's ready to use, be it for for batteries via a charge controller or mains voltage via an inverter.  It's also fairly maintenance free with no consumables (ignoring batteries if used) and great for unattended operation.

None of those points above really matter to commercial scale generation - there, efficiency is (or should be) very important and PV actually sucks pretty badly at that while thermal collection fairs better.

Now, for home or neighborhood generation, some company would have to come up with a well-packaged, easy to use and maintain, and *safe* thermal collector/genset
2013-02-25 10:22:59 AM  
1 vote:

Felgraf: This is why I hate gold speculators.

Gold is really, REALLY useful for scientific purposes. It has a very nice surface plasmon resonance (an effect that sounds scary, but is fairly easy to explain) at the nanoscale, and, while silver similarly has a good SPR, silver oxidizes really friggen fast, and gold doesn't. Gold is REALLY REALLY handy with nanotech research. It's really easy to make it into a variety of shapes, too!

And we insist on using it for trinkets. It's akin to using helium to fill carnival balloons.
2013-02-25 09:34:47 AM  
1 vote:
se51.netView Full Size

People of Hiva unimpressed.

/sequel airs this year
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