More than $150 billion worth of economic activity was contributed by the solar industry in the United States in 2016. When that kind of significant cash begins to flood an industry, you can be sure that new innovations are not far behind.
And what could be more cutting edge than the term “solar paint”? Is there a paint that, in addition to producing electricity, can still function as a regular paint? The capacity to convert not just a roof, but an entire structure, into a surface that generates solar energy? I don’t know what else would be needed to convince you that this is an innovative idea.
Traditional photovoltaic solar panels have served as the industry’s primary source of revenue up until this point. Solar panels are a tried and tested technology that have been shown to save homeowners a significant amount of money. However, the hassle and expense of installing solar panels on rooftops is often enough to dissuade people from making the switch to solar energy.
Imagine for a moment that we live in a world where we have access to a type of paint that, when applied to surfaces like roofs and walls, has the ability to generate electricity. Even though there is still a long way to go before we can actually use this technology, just contemplating its potential uses is exciting.
What exactly is solar paint, then? It is important to understand that solar paint is not a single product; rather, there are currently three distinct technologies that are referred to as “solar paint.” This is the most important fact to keep in mind.
Types of solar paint
The concept of employing a substance similar to paint in order to generate electricity has been debated within the realm of science for a significant number of years. The possibility of applications in the real world has only emerged relatively recently.
Solar paints are a broad category that encompasses three distinct technological advancements. In this article, we investigate what they are and what impact, if any, they may have on the future of solar energy.
- Quantum dot solar cell
The University of Toronto is credited with the invention of quantum dots, which are also known as photovoltaic paint. These nanoscale semiconductors have the ability to absorb light and convert it to an electric current.
Traditional solar cells are being replaced by “colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics,” which, to use the full technical term, are not only considerably more efficient than their predecessors but also significantly less expensive to produce.
Susanna Thon, who is the author of a research paper, claims that there are two benefits associated with colloidal quantum dots. To begin, they are significantly less expensive, which means that they lower the cost of producing electricity when measured in terms of the cost per watt of power. The most significant benefit, on the other hand, is that the light-absorption spectrum of the quantum dot can be altered quite easily by merely adjusting its size.
These dots have the potential to have an efficiency that is up to 11% higher than that of conventional solar panels. In theory, at some point in the future, we will have the ability to transform sunlight into electricity by painting these quantum dots on the surfaces of our roofs and other areas.
- Hydrogen solar paint
Solar paint that generates energy from water vapor has been developed by a team of researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).
To put it another way, the paint works by drawing moisture out of the air and then using the energy from the sun to split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. After that, the hydrogen can be put to use in the production of green energy.
The paint functions in the following manner because it is formulated with a recently invented substance known as synthetic molybdenum-sulfide. It functions in a manner analogous to that of silica gel, which absorbs moisture from the surrounding air and is commonly found in consumer product packaging in order to maintain the product’s dry state.
Titanium oxide, a substance that is already present in conventional paint, is included in the formulation of this solar paint as well. Titanium oxide enables the paint to harness the power of the sun and convert the absorbed moisture into hydrogen and oxygen molecules with greater efficiency. After that, the hydrogen can be put to use in the production of green energy.
Dr. Torben Daeneke, the researcher in charge of the project at RMIT, stated that “Our new development has a big range of advantages.” It is not necessary to feed the system water that has been cleaned or filtered. It is possible to produce fuel in any location as long as there is some amount of water vapor in the air, even in extremely remote areas.
The production of hydrogen, which is both a fuel and a storage medium for energy, is one of the things that sets this technology apart from others of its kind. This hydrogen-collecting solar paint has the potential to be an environmentally friendly and cost-effective method of collecting hydrogen for use in the production of energy, provided that it reaches the point where it is ready for commercial use.
- Perovskite solar paint
Perovskites are what make it possible to create this type of solar paint, which is also sometimes referred to as spray-on solar cells.
Named after Russian mineralogist Lev Perovski, perovskite materials are derived from a calcium titanium oxide mineral. Perovskite structure was found for the first time in 1839, but it wasn’t until 2009 that a research team in Japan introduced the world to the very first application of perovskite for the manufacture of solar cells.
Due to the fact that perovskite solar cells can be converted into a liquid state, they are an excellent material choice for use in solar paint. This property is what gives perovskite solar cells their unique appeal.
In point of fact, researchers have developed what are known as spray-on solar cells, which are capable of being sprayed onto surfaces in the form of liquid perovskite cells. The University of Sheffield is credited with the development of the very first spray-on solar cell in the year 2014. To create a layer capable of absorbing sunlight, a mixture containing perovskites was sprayed onto the target surface.
The future of solar paint
The technologies for solar paint that are being discussed here have the potential to completely revolutionize the industry of renewable energy.
Solar paint, in whatever form it takes, has the potential to make solar power systems a common place all over the world. Solar painting is an option that can be considered for every roof.
But, unfortunately, this reality is still a ways off; commercial applications of solar paint technology are still a number of years away.
Until then, installing solar panels on your roof is unquestionably the best option for anyone who is interested in lowering their monthly electricity costs while also producing their own environmentally friendly power. It is a no-brainer to install solar panels on your home while the federal government is still offering a tax credit of 26% of the cost until the end of 2022.