Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Using the Sun to Charge on the Go

Energy and the cost of energy are two hot topics thrown around the media today. From foreign and domestic oil to fracking, it seems that nonrenewable energy sources are on everyone's mind. However, Dr. Faramarz Farahi hopes to change this type of thinking by harnessing the sun, through our clothing.
The small testing station for the solar cloth
Dr. Farahi is a professor at UNC Charlotte who specializes in optics and has been working on a small project to create cloth that can absorb sunlight. This energy fabric collects light that hits its surface using a small set of "solar yarns" woven into the cloth. Dr. Farahi's solar yarns are created with optically transparent material and nano particles. These collect the light energy and, when connected to a ribbon of solar cells, create electricity.

The yarns as light passes through.
The science is great and the applications are endless. "You could stick your phone in your shirt pocket and it would start charging," Dr. Farahi tells me. "Or make a book bag to stick your laptop in and plug it up so it charges as you go." Outside of commercial use, there are also possibilities in the private sector. Emergency disaster organization could be outfitted with blankets that could help keep disaster stricken survivors warm at night and then turn around and be used to create electricity during the day. Soldiers could utilize tents that can create their own electricity while stationed across the sea in the Middle East. "It wont get rid of the $20 billion a year it takes to create energy over there, but it will help."
Light shines through the solar yarn at the end of the cloth.
All of this is really exciting, but it will take time. "We're not a very big team, and we don't have a lot of money, so it will take time," Dr. Farahi explains. Though the team just received an NSF grant, it will take some time. Dr. Farahi is working with outside companies to work with his team at ParaSol Technologies to help make this fabric useful and cost effective. "To have a small working prototype of just a small cloth, it'll be two years. Hopefully." Until then, we can only get excited and dream of more possibilities for this amazing piece of technology to come.

1 comment:

  1. Whether you're trying to get off the grid, or you just like to experiment, Build Your Own Solar Panel has all the information you need to build your own photovoltaic panel to generate electricity from the sun. just see the link in this guide you will learn how to generate elecricity from sunlight..