Do you know the “Solar paint”?
The “solar paint” or solar paint is a paint that, in addition to giving color and protection to surfaces (walls, doors, pavements, etc.), has the ability to react to sunlight to produce clean and sustainable energy.
Do you know the “Solar paint”?
There are two types of these paintings, one that produces electricity and that was studied and developed a decade ago, and a new version that reacts with the water vapor present in the air, thanks to the action of the sun’s rays, and is able to generate hydrogen. Both solar paints are very interesting to take advantage of natural resources and generate clean and inexhaustible energy. But can I buy them in stores? We explain everything below.
Origins: where it emerged, evolution and development
The need to find new ways to generate clean and sustainable energy has led many universities and organizations to study any possibility of achieving it. Thus, researchers from the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, United States, published at the end of 2011 an article entitled ” Sun-Believable Solar Paint.
A Transformative One-Step Approach for Designing Nanocrystalline Solar Cells “ , in which they detailed their research, and the properties of this painting for the production of electricity, as do photovoltaic solar panels.
For their development, they were based on a paste without binder consisting of semiconductor nanoparticles CdS, CdSe and TiO2, and applied to a surface of the conductive glass and annealed at 473 K. The photoconversion behavior of these semiconductor film electrodes was evaluated in a photoelectrochemical cell composed of a graphene-Cu2S counter electrode and a sulphide / polysulfide redox pair.
When testing, open circuit voltages of up to 600 mV and a short-circuit current of 3.1 mA / cm2 were obtained with the CdS / TiO2 – CdSe / TiO2 electrodes. In addition, an energy conversion efficiency exceeding 1% was obtained for solar cells constructed using the simple conventional brush approach in environmental conditions.
This type of paint has already evolved to the commercial form, being produced by several companies such as SolarPaint Ltd. Located in Israel and that from the initial study of the University of Notre Dame, has developed and patented the “Solar Paint” and markets it since last year 2018. But as we mentioned before, there is other research from the Royal Institute of Technology of Melbourne (RMIT),
which has developed a solar paint that has the ability to absorb water vapor to produce hydrogen fuel. It is a real revolution in the field of sustainable materials. A source of clean energy on the wall of your house. In fact, hydrogen is considered one of the clean energy sources of the future. This study is only a primitive phase of this new solar paint, and it remains to be investigated and to be able to take advantage of the hydrogen that it is capable of generating, so that in several years we will not have better news.
Solar Paint Features
When we talk about photovoltaic solar paint , the secret of the technology patented by the company SolarPaint is the use of “quantum dots”, which are the energy producers of nano-particles. Quantum dots are suspended (diluted) in a mixture of water and alcohol and transformed into sunscreen. Then it can be distributed to any conductive surface that collects energy without any special equipment .
The “electrode network” of SolarPaint (of ultra-thin wires similar to a mosquito net) and the coating impregnated with nanoparticles of the solar paint, can generate solar energy by applying it on ceilings, walls and, in the future, even on roads. This technology could be a change for traditional solar panels , which have a clear restriction in the limited spaces of the land that the industry has traditionally used
As for the “Solar Paint” for hydrogen generation, and which is still under study, the compound of this paint is made up of “semiconductor materials called CIGS (copper, indium, gallium and selenium)”. Some advances and challenges of this proposal are to be able to develop “a manufacturing method 10 times cheaper than the current panels”, however, it is too early to start its commercialization . Specialists in the field indicate that in approximately 5 years you can go to market.
How does it work?
Solar paint or photovoltaic solar paint is an alternative solar energy that consists of using a paint that manages to generate electrical energy by coming into contact with the sun’s radiation. Once it is generated, it is transferred to the battery of a car. Thanks to a material called “ perovskita ”, when spraying this paint, any surface becomes a solar panel. It is mainly composed of calcium titanate and is cheaper than silicon for panels. And these could be of a much smaller thickness than the traditional ones.
It is based on recent advances in semiconductor nanocrystal research. Now a single layer solar paint has been developed for the design of quantum dot solar cells. While additional improvements are required to develop strategies for large areas, all solid-state devices, this initial effort to prepare solar paint offers the advantages of a simple design and economically viable next-generation solar cells.
This alternative energy is suitable for those surfaces that are not flat and on which the common panels of active solar heating cannot be placed . It would be the case of cars or mobile devices in general.
Hydrogen generation , moving to hydrogen solar paint or Solar Paint -H2. Its operation is simple. Just apply a coat of paint on a roof, door or exterior wall, using a roller or brush. And that’s it, since all it takes for the system to work is sunlight and water vapor in the environment. It is a material that allows you to enjoy the many advantages offered by solar energy. And this without the need to install photovoltaic panels.
Technically, its operation is based on the capture of water vapor present in the air and condense it. Then, thanks to the titanium oxide, the paint works as a semiconductor for electrolysis by photocatalysis of the captured water . That is, it favors its decomposition into oxygen and hydrogen molecules. Hydrogen that can be collected for use as a fuel in electrochemical cells or in engines.
Benefits of Solar Paint
|Photovoltaic solar paint or Solar Paint -e||Solar hydrogen paint or Solar Paint -H2|
|Easy to manufacture||Easy to manufacture|
|Cheaper than silicon-based panels||Easy to apply (like any paint)|
|Take advantage of any surface||Take advantage of any surface|
|Easy to apply (like any paint)||Able to generate clean and unlimited energy|
|In marketing process since 2018|
|Generate unlimited and clean energy|
Although it seems that all are advantages for these new ways of generating energy, the truth is that, for now, they still have some drawbacks.
Photovoltaic solar paint or Solar Paint -e
- Even lower performance than silicon plates
- It needs electrical and electronic equipment for its management and use
Solar hydrogen paint or Solar Paint -H2
- Difficulty saving the generated H2
- Still under development
Solar Paint for homes: reality or fiction?
Although it seems science fiction, the truth is that it is an alternative that we can buy shortly ourselves. Although we will need the help of professionals to perform the rest of the installation that is needed to take advantage of it . We talk about electrical connections to store it, convert it into alternating current for housing, etc. We must not forget that the surfaces we paint with photovoltaic solar paint will behave like a photovoltaic solar panel. And to take advantage of them, they must be accompanied by other elements such as batteries, regulators, inverters, etc.
As for the Solar Paint of hydrogen, we can consider it a reality, since research shows that hydrogen production is viable. But it will take us some years to use it, since hydrogen is a gas that we must capture once generated, and this step is not yet completely resolved with solar paint . But because today it is very expensive and polluting to produce hydrogen, we are sure that many companies will be interested in working to solve the problem of hydrogen uptake generated by Solar Paint.
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