An old material could be used to make dirt cheap solar panels - but don't get too excited, it's likely still some time before they'll be available commercially for the home solar market.
Deposits of perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide mineral, were first discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia by Gustav Rose in 1839.
The mineral, named after Russian mineralogist Lev Perovski, displays a multitude of properties including superconductivity, magnetoresistance, ionic conductivity, and various dielectric attributes.
While the existence of perovskite has been known for nearly 175 years, it's only been relatively recently that its attributes have been seized upon for use in the construction of solar cells.
According to the MIT Technology Review, the mineral could be used to make solar panels that could be produced for between 10 and 20 cents per watt. This is largely due to the small amount of perovskite that is needed to construct a solar cell.Rectangular shaped Led Flood Light designed to replace 150W Metal Halide.
"While conventional silicon solar panels use materials that are about 180 micrometers thick, the new solar cells use less than one micrometer of material to capture the same amount of sunlight," states an article on the topic.
A great deal of progress has been made in using the material. Original solar cells made from perovskite achieved efficiencies of just 3.5%, but last year researchers at Oxford University reported developing a prototype perovskite based solar cell "that has a power conversion efficiency of 10.9% in a single-junction device under simulated full sunlight."
Perovskite solar cells are being further developed by Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd. (OPV), which recently announced it had achieved a new high of 15.4% efficiency for its perovskite solar cells.
Australian solar pioneer Professor Martin Green, widely regarded as the 'father of photovoltaics', sees great potential for perovskite - and not just as a replacement for silicon, but it could perhaps enhance the properties of silicon based solar cells.
While 10 cents a watt may sound like a pipe dream; it was less than a decade ago when the prospect of solar panels that could be produced for less than $1 a watt seemed unlikely too.
Lighting LEDs have bought two things to the market: power efficiency, and life so long that 10 years of maintenance-free operation is possible. Choosing the wrong driver can ruin either or both.
“Efficiency in our drivers depends on power level. It is in the high 80%s, around 88%, and we have a new 150W driver that is 93% efficient including power factor correction,” said Dale. “Life is 50,000 hours for LEDs,How does a solar charger work and where would you use a solar charger? so the design life for drivers is over 50,000 hours at operating temperature. Electrolytic capacitors are weakest link, we use long-life parts.”
Dale mentioned power factor correction – PFC – the desire for which is gradually creeping down the power scale.
“We are always aiming for high efficiency and high power factor and long life,” he said.We carry a extensive line of Parking Lot Lighting inventory. “Regulations say you don’t need PFC under 25W. But people doing large installations are still very interested in PFC, and harmonised standards are looking at PFC at 5W.”
With its first ever LED driver, Harvard learned an important lesson.
“We built in protection, like thermal trip and output over-voltage, in the original driver. And we put a label on the outside warning not to connect them to the mains before the LEDs were connected,” said Dale. “And we still had problems with people applying mains, then connecting the LEDs, and the capacitors damaging the LEDs with a current surge.”
The second LED driver product had hot-plug protection – a current limit that protected LEDs from careless installation.More information about the program is available on the web site at www.soli-lite.com.