Scientists Developed Novel Solar Panel to Harvest Energy from Raindrops

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Researchers from Soochow University China developed hybrid solar panel based on triboelectric effect to harvest energy from raindrops

Solar energy is majorly being utilized for generation of energy since recent past. However, generation of energy in absence of solar heat was a major challenge, which is addressed by researchers from China through novel breakthrough technology. Researchers have developed novel solar panel which can generate energy from raindrops in absence of solar energy. The new type of solar panel incorporates a Triboelectric Nanogenerator (TENG), which converts mechanical energy into electricity by exhibit an electrical charge after coming into contact with a different material. The study was published in journal Nano in May 2018.

“Solar cells have become one of the most widespread solutions in the crisis issues of the environment and energy,” Zhen Wen, an assistant professor in the Institute of Functional Nano and Soft Materials at Soochow. “However, the power generation from a solar cell is affected by various weather conditions — for example, rainy weather. The intermittent and unpredictable nature of solar energy is an inevitable challenge for its expansion as a reliable power supply system. Scavenging alternative energy from the environment with different types of energy harvesters, to compensate for the insufficient part, is urgent.”

Researchers explain that the concept of combined solar cell and triboelectric nanogenerator was first proposed by researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in a paper published in 2015. Present work of developing hybrid device is conducted by putting a nanogenerator on a solar cell. Instead of a chunky creation made up of two independent energy harvesting units, this is a true double-sided solar panel capable of adding a 10 percent boost in overall output.

Ability of solar panels to generate fraction of their regular output when it’s raining can overcome challenges faced by solar power. “We are very confident that our device can harvest wind energy if we slightly modify our TENG nanogenerator structure, because TENG can various mechanical energies form environment such as wind into electricity,” Wen continued.

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