Clumsy, that solar panels do not generate energy while its raining. Chinese scientists have just figured out that solar panels even generate electricity for all-weather: even when it is raining.
Solar modules are most effective when they are exposed to direct sunlight, but what happens when it rains?
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, rain helps to wash dust and dirt from the panels, but ensure the water droplets do not produce energy. This is our chance, scientists from the Ocean University of China and Yunnan Normal University thought. They made a solar cell that provides power both during sunny and rainy periods. When the sun is shining, the panel uses existing technology. But when it rains, it’s a different story.
The solar cell is applied with a layer graphene. If a raindrop falls on it, the drop will be converted into positive and negative ions.
- The positive ions are mainly salt-related, such as sodium, calcium and ammonium
These are collected on the surface and work together with the negative electrodes in the layer of graphene.
This creates a double layer, where positive and negative charges are separated. This double layer provides electrical power and provide a voltage, similar to how a battery works.
- In this way, a difference arises in the two layers: large enough to generate voltage and electricity.
At present, the research is still in concept phase. Scientists hope to develop the technology further as a reliable method to generate electricity in countries with cloudy and rainy weather.
All-weather solar cells
All-weather solar cells are promising in solving the energy crisis. A flexible solar cell is presented that is triggered by combining an electron-enriched graphene electrode with a dye-sensitized solar cell.
The new solar cell can be excited by incident light on sunny days and raindrops on rainy days, yielding an optimal solar-to-electric conversion efficiency of 6.53 % under AM 1.5 irradiation and current over microamps as well as a voltage of hundreds of microvolts by simulated raindrops.
The formation of π-electron|cation electrical double-layer pseudo capacitors at graphene/raindrop interface is contribuabel to current and voltage outputs at switchable charging–discharging process. The new concept can guide the design of advanced all-weather solar cells.
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