Researchers have found three new ways to double the solar dividend, making the sun work harder and deliver more to the renewable economy.
A new, translucent material made of little more than silica and air can double the solar dividend, collecting solar heat and raising temperatures to 200°C, delivering new ways to heat homes or power industrial processes.
And other researchers in the same US city believe they may be on track to deliver much more electricity from solar cells. They have found a way to make a single photon of light dislodge not one electron but two.
A third team in Saudi Arabia has now shown that their solar arrays can not only generate electric power: they can also turn sea water into fresh drinking water at the same time.
All three technologies are at the laboratory stage. All three are a long way from commercial exploitation on any scale. But all three are also demonstrations of the extraordinary ingenuity and imagination at work in the world’s laboratories as scientists look for new ways to tackle the energy challenge of a zero carbon world and deliver more power without raising planetary temperatures to hazardous levels.
Researchers have been working on ways to turn carbon dioxide back into fuel, to warm and light homes with transparent wood, to generate power from footsteps and to harvest electrical energy from evaporation.
All three of the latest twists exploit sunlight in different ways and use new materials to step up levels of efficiency.
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