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Solar Power Heating For All Homes

Solar Power Heating For All Homes

Solar energy is still a significant renewable energy resource. Solar electricity is simply energy produced by harnessing the sun. Historically, sunlight has been used by mankind to produce heat ever since we first built structures. It has and always will be a free energy resource.

The trick to it, is to capture and distribute the energy at an efficiency rate that makes it a viable energy resource, meaning that it won’t cost more to make and distribute than is worth it to use.

At the time when mankind did not use electricity, we soon learned to orient structures to capture the heat of the sun during the day and store it in ceramic or mud materials. Early Greek structures show a particular use of this solar strategy as do Egyptian structures.

The production of electricity using sunlight is a much more recent phenomena.

In 1901, Nicolas Tesla was the first person to receive a patent related to solar electricity, but he called it radiant heating. He sought a patent for a machine to capture the radiant heat, but nothing much came of the invention.

In 1904, some unknown physicist named Albert Einstein published a paper on the potential electricity production from sunlight. In 1913, William Coblentz received the first patent for a solar cell, but he could never make it work. In 1916, Robert Millikan was the first to produce electricity with the cell.

For the next forty years or so, nobody made much progress because the cells were highly inefficient at converting sunlight to energy.

In the 1950s, Bell Labs got involved with NASA. Bell was charged with coming up with a solar platform to power spacecraft once they were in orbit. The solar industry would never be the same.

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Gerald L. Pearson, Daryl M. Chapin, and Calvin S. Fuller started researching different areas related to solar, but not active parts of the NASA project. By luck, they meet and exchanged ideas.

While their individual projects were failures, their combined efforts produce a much more efficient cell using crystallized silicon to convert sunlight into electricity.

The efficiency rate of the cells was roughly 6 percent, a marked improvement over previous technology.

In 1958, NASA launched the Vanguard Spacecraft, which was powered by solar panels.

In the following years, solar technology grew in leaps and bounds. Until recently, Solar panels were just under 18 percent efficient, but were also much smaller than they use to be.

More importantly, companies are abandoning the panel platform and coming out with amazing new products.

The first are shingles that look exactly like regular roof shingles and perform as such.

Nanotechnology is offering amazing possibilities with quantum dots, which are essentially solar panels on the quantum level. These dots are incorporated in things such as paint. Higher efficiency needs to be achieved with this method, though the current range is acceptable to warrant its use.

Another new technology is a type of crystal film that uses indium phosphide and gallium arsenide. Normally, the cells made from these materials use expensive crystals of the semiconductor material. The crystals are exposed to vapors that produce thin films on the crystals, which make the solar cell.

However, there is a process on the horizon today called “Javey’s Process” that instead uses cheap materials such as glass or a metal sheets instead of the crystals. The vapors used are cheaper than those normally used and are more efficient.

Scientists are still working on this process and similar alternatives for better efficiency and application.

It’s hard to believe that things like paint or film for glass can be used as an energy source.

Man has used the power of the sun for heat for a very long time. Only now, however, are we starting to master the technology to turn it into large amounts of free electricity. Imagine what we will accomplish in twenty years time.

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