Renewable electricity by painting solar cells

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Washington, Mar 11 (UNI) A new eco-friendly technology can generate electricity equivalent to 50 wind farms, researchers claim.

Researchers from the University School of Engineering are finding ways of painting solar cells on the flexible steel surfaces commonly used for coating buildings.

''We have been collaborating with the steel industry for decades, but have tended to focus our attention on improving the long-term durability and corrosion-resistance of the steel,'' explained Dr Dave Worsely, Reader at the Materials Research Centre.

''One of our Engineering Doctorate students was researching how sunlight interacts with paint and degrades it, which led us to develop a new photovoltaic method of capturing solar energy,'' he said.

Unlike conventional solar cells, the materials being developed at Swansea University were more efficient at capturing low light radiation, suiting better with the climate.

Paint is applied to steel when it is passed through rollers during the manufacturing process, and the same method can be used to build up layers of the solar cell system.

The researchers' aim is to produce cells that can be painted onto a flexible steel surface and they believe that the product has immense potential.

By treating the steel building coating with the photovoltaic material and assuming a conservative five per cent energy conversion rate, we could generate 4,500 gigawatts of electricity through the solar cells annually, equivalent to roughly 50 wind farms.

''Even if we are only mildly successful with this project, there is no doubt that we will be creating an exciting hi-tech steel product that will preserve the long term future of the steel industry,'' he added.

UNI XC PD KN1843

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