HyperSolar Concentrator

This item refreshes ourappreciation of the concentration aspect of solar light energy conversion.  The cells themselves merely capture a narrowfraction of the spectrum and concentrating those portions of the spectra into ahigh efficiency cell is an obvious strategy that is normally deployed withthermal systems.

Doing it with photovoltaics is anobvious system booster and manufacturing methods may now be up to thechallenge.

An important economicconsideration is the output per square foot of installed engineeredstructure.  I suspect that they mean toincrease that ratio four fold using this method.  If true it will be a major leap in overallenergy efficiency that is not dependent on the present research lines which hasbeen singularly unimpressive in advancing solar technology despite a plethoraof fundamental discoveries.

HyperSolar concentrator could boost solar cell output by 400 percent

By BenCoxworth   14:24 February 17, 2011

HyperSolar intends to produce a thin, flat, clear solar concentrator,that could boost the amount of sunlight reaching solar cells by up to 400percent (Image: HyperSolar)

Solar cells are the most expensive part of a solar panel, so it wouldfollow that if panels could produce the same amount of electricity with lesscells, then their prices would come down. In order for panels to be able to doso using existing cell technology, however, they would need to get more lightto the fewer cells that they still had. Mounting the panels on the end ofvertical poles to get them closer to the sun is one possible approach, thatmight work in the town of Bedrock or onGilligan’s Island. A better idea, though, isto apply a clear layer of solar concentrators to the surface of a panel – andthat’s just what HyperSolar intends to do.

The Californiacompany claims that it has just completed the prototype design of “the world’sfirst thin and flat solar concentrator for direct placement on top of existingsolar cells.” Each sheet will contain a matrix of optical concentrators thatare capable of collecting sunlight from a variety of angles. Beneath thoseconcentrators will be a “photonics network,” that will channel light from allthe collection points on the top to concentrated output points on the bottom.This network will also able to separate the sunlight into different spectrumranges, so that specific ranges can be sent to specific cells designed toabsorb them.

The sheets will also incorporate a photonics thermal management systemthat will keep unusable parts of the solar spectrum from reaching the cells.This should keep the cells from overheating, and becoming less efficient.

While HyperSolar predicts that its product will be able to magnify thesun’s rays by 300 to 400 percent, not all cells will necessarily be able tohandle that kind of intensity. For that reason, the solar concentrators willcome in Low Magnification, High Magnification, and Mix-Mode Magnificationmodels. At the 400 percent level, the company states that aconcentrator-equipped panel could use 75 percent less cells than one without.

HyperSolar’snext step will be to produce an actual physical prototype, and see if it worksas envisioned. We’ll keep you posted ...

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