The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that as of 2015, more than 23 percent of the world’s energy came from renewable sources. That number is expected to rise to more than 32 percent by 2050. Solar power is one of the more common sources of renewable energy. The majority of world countries use the sun’s power for generating electricity in the commercial and private sectors. Scientists continue developing new methods to harvest natural resources in order to increase renewable energy production. A group of researchers from Stanford University is in the process of developing devices designed to extract energy from the sun and outer space.
People of all ages are aware of the importance the sun plays in heating the Earth. The sun provides heat in the form of infrared radiation, which is invisible to the naked eye. The radiation travels to Earth via particles. However, some of the radiation stays in outer space. The temperatures found in outer space are also known to be extremely cold. Stanford scientists are interested in developing the technology that might harness the hot and cold energies using a single device.
The technology includes a germanium solar absorber situated above a radiant cooler. Within the unit are aluminum, silicon and silicon nitride layers created to create a vacuum to prevent heat loss. Thus far, the device has successfully warmed temperatures to 75.2 degrees Fahrenheit and cools temperatures to 84.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
The group hopes to combine the technologies of solar power for electricity in addition to having a radiative cooler that acts as a cooling air conditioning system during the summer. Although the scientists explain that there is yet much work to be accomplished, the technique seems promising. The use of zinc selenide for the device is as of yet cost prohibitive. The researchers must develop their new technological device in such a way as to be able to incorporate more cost-effective materials.
They plan on testing their technology using conventional solar panels in place of the expensive materials needed for the solar absorber. The hope of the scientists involves taking solar power technology to a whole new level. If successful, the devices would one day be made available to install on rooftops in order to provide the public with electricity and air conditioning simultaneously.