MS Turanor PlanetSolar, the world’s largest, solar-powered yacht ever constructed, will sets sail this month on a transatlantic, scientific expedition to study climate change. In only 22 days, the vessel broke its Guinness World Record for completing the fastest transatlantic crossing with a solar boat, solely operated without any fuel or CO2 emissions.
The sun-powered, 102-ft. catamaran will dock in 16 different cities along its journey and make its U.S. debut with a stopover in Miami at Sunset Harbour Yacht Club, South Florida’s only five-star, certified green marina. To celebrate its arrival, a private press conference luncheon and VIP tour of the vessel will take place starting at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, June 3rd, with local dignitaries and government officials in attendance.
The expedition kicks off the vessel’s second global tour and the launch of the 2013 “PlanetSolar Deep Water” expedition, where distinguished scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) will collect data from air and water to study the key parameters of climate regulation, specifically atmospheric aerosols, phytoplankton and ocean eddies, whirlpools that carry large amounts of energy. In addition, the vessel will conduct environmental clean-up missions by collecting floating plastic waste and host educational events in port cities to raise public awareness of climate issues.
Locally, students from inner-city schools affiliated with Communities In Schools of Miami, Inc. the local chapter of the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, and students attending Florida International University are scheduled to tour the vessel to learn more about climate regulation and environmental issues.
The MS Turanor PlanetSolar’s team will sail along the Gulf Stream’s ocean current, one of the most important regulators of European and North American climates, from May to August. The expedition will be led by Professor Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at University of Geneva.
One of the instruments installed onboard, the Biobox, which was developed by the applied physics group at UNIGE, is currently the only device capable of making a thorough analysis of aerosols using laser technology. It will be tested for the first time aboard the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar.
At the helm of MS Turanor PlanetSolar is Captain Gerard D’Aboville, the first man to row across two oceans solo: the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
Most Americans want the U.S. to place more emphasis on developing solar power, recent polls suggest.
A major impediment, however, is the cost to manufacture, install and maintain solar panels. Simply put, most people and businesses cannot afford to place them on their rooftops.
Fortunately, that is changing because researchers such as Qiaoqiang Gan, University at Buffalo assistant professor of electrical engineering, are helping develop a new generation of photovoltaic cells that produce more power and cost less to manufacture than what’s available today.
One of the more promising efforts, which Gan is working on, involves the use of plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaic materials. These devices don’t match traditional solar cells in terms of energy production but they are less expensive and – because they are made (or processed) in liquid form – can be applied to a greater variety of surfaces.
Gan detailed the progress of plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaic materials in the May 7 edition of the journal Advanced Materials. Co-authors include Filbert J. Bartoli, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Lehigh University, and Zakya Kafafi of the National Science Foundation.
The paper, which included an image of a plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaic device on the journal’s front page, is available at: http://bit.ly/11gzlQm.
Currently, solar power is produced with either thick polycrystalline silicon wafers or thin-film solar cells made up of inorganic materials such as amorphous silicon or cadmium telluride. Both are expensive to manufacture, Gan said.
His research involves thin-film solar cells, too, but unlike what’s on the market he is using organic materials such as polymers and small molecules that are carbon-based and less expensive.
“Compared with their inorganic counterparts, organic photovoltaics can be fabricated over large areas on rigid or flexible substrates potentially becoming as inexpensive as paint,” Gan said.
The reference to paint does not include a price point but rather the idea that photovoltaic cells could one day be applied to surfaces as easily as paint is to walls, he said.
There are drawbacks to organic photovoltaic cells. They have to be thin due to their relatively poor electronic conductive properties. Because they are thin and, thus, without sufficient material to absorb light, it limits their optical absorption and leads to insufficient power conversion efficiency.
Their power conversion efficiency needs to be 10 percent or more to compete in the market, Gan said.
To achieve that benchmark, Gan and other researchers are incorporating metal nanoparticles and/or patterned plasmonic nanostructures into organic photovoltaic cells. Plasmons are electromagnetic waves and free electrons that can be used to oscillate back and forth across the interface of metals and semiconductors.
Recent material studies suggest they are succeeding, he said. Gan and the paper’s co-authors argue that, because of these breakthroughs, there should be a renewed focus on how nanomaterials and plasmonic strategies can create more efficient and affordable thin-film organic solar cells.
Gan is continuing his research by collaborating with several researchers at UB including: Alexander N. Cartwright, professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering and UB vice president for research and economic development; Mark T. Swihart, UB professor of chemical and biological engineering and director of the university’s Strategic Strength in Integrated Nanostructured Systems; and Hao Zeng, associate professor of physics.
Gan is a member of UB’s electrical engineering optics and photonics research group, which includes Cartwright, professors Edward Furlani and Pao-Lo Liu, and Natalia Litchinitser, associate professor.
The group carries out research in nanphotonics, biophotonics, hybrid inorganic/organic materials and devices, nonlinear and fiber optics, metamaterials, nanoplasmonics, optofluidics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), biomedical microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMs), biosensing and quantum information processing.
AMECO Solar announced a free Solar 101 Community Workshop on Wednesday, May 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm in Long Beach, CA.
Organized by AMECO, the workshop will teach you how to use the sun’s power to benefit your home or business. Our team of experts will go over the basics of solar energy in addition to other topics including: how much money you can save with solar, how to finance a solar installation and how to choose the best solar system and solar installer. Attendees will be given the chance to ask questions at the end of the workshop.
Patrick Redgate, our President & CEO commented, “After thirty nine years in the solar business, we have accumulated a lot of knowledge about solar. We want to pass this information on to the community and hope that our session will inspire more people to consider solar, making their homes and business more sustainable.”
There are a limited amount of spaces available so register today to lock in your spot at the Solar 101 Community Workshop. Fill out a brief form on our Solar 101 Registration page or call us at (562) 633-4400. We hope to see you there!
Scientists working at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) have improved an innovative solar-energy device to be about 100 times more efficient than its previous design in converting the sun’s light and heat into electricity.
Read complete article at phys.org