University of Capetown's Disposable Solar Panel
Researchers at the University of Cape Town SA have developed a protoytpe method for printing solar panels on paper. We wish we had a photograph of their working prototype SPV panel on display, but none yet seem to exist. However, our 'concept bait' picture does fairly represent the designers' intent of producing electricity affordable by the poorest of rural families. The method seems to involve printing with modified color printers, using three or four separate print runs with black, blue, yellow and magenta inks containing tiny silicon particles. They print the metal contacts, then the semiconductor structure, then more contacts. The voltage and power output of the solar cell is determined by the size of the poster. An "A2-sized poster" will deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a cellphone, power a radio or provide five hours of lighting, according Prof David Britton. News coverage from SA outlets mentions that 'Shops could stock rolls of solar panel posters, and cut it to meet a customer's needs. The poster could be mounted behind a window or attached to a cabinet'. Apparently the research team is seeking to commercialise the project. Coupling nanotech with AutoCad fast prototyping is about as advanced as TreeHugging gets. Let's hope they're as good at business as they are at inventing because this could help drive down the price much faster than anyone imagined possible. Recalling that paper can be made of various non-woven polymer strands that are entirely water resistant, this seems like it has great potential. Might even be room to recycle the paper at end of life. Guess we're getting ahead of the prototype idea though. Congrads to Professor Britton and his Capetown associates.