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Space-Based Solar energy : There have been some fits and starts, and technology is still evolving. But now, JAXA, NASA and other agencies are much more serious about it. And JAXA has demonstrated transmission.

I remember having a discussion with +Jonah Miller on an earlier post - https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LacerantPlainerWrites/posts/Gg5Tw9tWHWJ which outlined the issues.

What has changed? : Firstly the name. SBS has been renamed 'Space-based stellar' energy. But more relevant, there have been advances in transmission, materials, funding and research which have been gathering momentum. And that maverick +Elon Musk has put his hat in the ring....

JAXA Transmission tests : The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or Jaxa, said it succeeded in transmitting electric power wirelessly to a pinpoint target using microwaves, which is an essential technology needed for the realization of space-based solar power. In space-based solar power generation, sunlight is gathered in geostationary orbit and transmitted to a receiver on Earth. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more solar energy reaches the Earth every hour than humans use in a year. Unlike solar panels set on Earth, satellite-based solar panels can capture the energy around the clock and aren’t affected by weather conditions.

Is it safe? : While the energy is transmitted in the same microwaves used in microwave ovens, it doesn’t fry a bird or an airplane traveling on its path because of its low-energy density, according to the Jaxa spokesman. Of course, the SSPS is still far from perfect, but JAXA's latest success clears one of the biggest and most fundamental hurdles facing the program: delivering power from space without having to run an extension cord out to Low Earth Orbit.

Other initiatives Chinese scientists are also considering how they can build and put into orbit a massive space station that would supply a constant stream of solar energy to Earth. A sponsored research agreement with Northrop Grumman Corporation will provide Caltech up to $17.5 million over three years for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). The SSPI will develop the scientific and technological innovations necessary to enable a space-based solar power system—consisting of ultralight, high-efficiency photovoltaics, a phased-array system to produce and distribute power dynamically, and ultralight deployable space structures—that ultimately will be capable of generating electric power at a cost comparable to that from fossil-fuel power plants.

References and Links

Paper: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?tp=&arnumber=1145675&url=http%3A%2F%2Fieeexplore.ieee.org%2Fxpls%2Fabs_all.jsp%3Farnumber%3D1145675

http://www.wsj.com/articles/japan-advances-in-space-based-solar-power-1426100482

http://www.caltech.edu/news/space-based-solar-power-project-funded-46644

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Solar_Power_Exploratory_Research_and_Technology_program

http://discovermagazine.com/2015/july-aug/19-stellar-energy

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2903588/china-considering-space-based-solar-power-station.html

http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/12/scientists-make-strides-in-beaming-solar-power-from-space/

Pic courtesy: Discover magazine.
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Facebook looks to provide internet using solar powered UAVs : While Google has bought Titan Aerospace and Google Loon had made news, actual implementation is still not apparent in places where there is slow internet. Now Facebook has announced through internet.org that they have bought Ascenta, a solar powered UAV which is similar tech. However, Facebook looks to be quite serious. The Ascenta website is now the Facebook blue.... Who will actually provide high speed access across the world? Time will tell.

Article Extract: Facebook plans to bring Internet to the third-world via drones, satellites, lasers, and more. Today Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s Connectivity Lab which will work on the Internet.org project. It’s powered by talent acqhired from solar-powered drone maker Ascenta as well as poached from NASA.

Internet.org, a partnership between Facebook and telecom industry giants like Nokia and Qualcomm, hopes to use these air- and space-born methods to bring Internet to the 5 billion people who currently lack it. Zuckerberg says that Internet.org and Facebook will work on inventing new technologies to complete the mission.

While they both have somewhat altruistic objectives, Facebook’s Connectivity Lab could compete with Google’s Project Loon, which uses huge helium balloon vessels to beam Internet to the developing world.

Source Article Link: http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/27/facebook-drones/ (pic from article)

Additional link: http://www.businessinsider.in/PHOTOS-Heres-What-Facebooks-New-Solar-Powered-Drone-Will-Look-Like/articleshow/32914949.cms

Popsci link ( with video) : http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/facebook-says-wi-fi-drones-will-be-jumbo-jet-sized?dom=PSC&loc=recent&lnk=6&con=facebook-says-wifi-drones-will-be-jumbo-jetsized-

Earlier post on +Google's efforts: https://plus.google.com/110884604033336753419/posts/JcJ1fH6DSUk

Earlier post on +Titan Aerospace : https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/103586346709495625226/+LacerantPlainerWrites/posts/FT7jWxEhP2q

+Facebook+ Fan Page +Mark Zuckerberg +GoogleX +Project Loon 

#internet #internetofthings #connectivity  
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Solar paint : Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) has paved the way to flexible solar cells using roll-to-roll technology. The next step is to spray it on any surface. Challenges still exist of degradation, efficiency and thin-film transparent coatings. But cutting edge technology on OPV is breaking new ground everyday. Will we soon see solar paint which can be sprayed on your roof, walls and cars? It's some time away, but rapid strides are being made in the chemistry at the nano level. And I'm sanguine.

OPVs : Conventional photovoltaic technology uses large, heavy, opaque, dark silicon panels while  organic photovoltaic technology enables more translucent and more flexible cells. OPVs need have greater efficiency, longer duration and low production cost - or at least some combination of those. Legacy solar panels have not improved in decades.

Solar paint is close : Scientists have dreamed of painting solar cells to generate energy on just about any surface, but efficiency has been a problem; researchers were happy to get one percent just a couple of years ago. At last, though, it looks like viable paint-on power is close at hand. A team at the University of Sheffield has developed spray-on cells that should be both cheap and capable. The trick is to coat an object in perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide mineral -- it's inexpensive like organic solar cells, but absorbs light nearly as well as silicon. In the lab, the technology isn't quite ready for prime time. A spray-based cell gets about 11 percent efficiency versus 19 percent at perovskite's ideal performance. However, it's still early days. Scientists believe that their approach could scale up to the same manufacturing techniques used for spray painting vehicles. If that happens, it's conceivable that your future car (and virtually any other device) could harvest the sun's rays without the steep costs and awkward product designs that are frequently involved when you use old-fashioned solar panels.

Hybrid tech : The invention involves the development of a completely printable organic solar cell based on semiconducting polymer nanoparticles dispersed in water. Essentially these tiny particles in suspension are a water-based paint, which can be printed or coated over large areas. In the first instance these coatings will be put onto plastic sheets that can be placed on the roof of a house. However, in the longer term it will be possible to directly paint a roof or building surface.

Source: http://www.science20.com/news_articles/organic_photovoltaic_technology_may_be_solar_panels_of_the_future-144048

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/08/03/spray-painted-solar-cells/

Additional source: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/txt/s3008638.htm

Article on Notre Dame research: http://research.nd.edu/research-stories/college-of-science/solar-paint-could-generate-electricity-on-roof-or-home-siding/

Paper: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nn204381g

Research link: http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-03002-9_99

Pic source: http://goo.gl/64YywS and http://goo.gl/XoAA0o

#solar #energy #technology #paint  
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A Solar Home : Inspired by Ted Ewen's post (http://goo.gl/lfEaxu), I decided to investigate the possibility of living off grid. Considering there are many variables to look at, it may not be possible in all places. But here is some interesting information which you can look at from the viewpoint of Solar Energy.

Build in the costs : First look at the property you are looking at. There are many ways in which one can implement solar panels. Unfortunately, there are varying degrees of quality and efficiency as well as stability and irradiance. So it needs to be sized for the area you have available and the kind of power you consume.

Off-grid may not be ideal : Considering solar is is coming close to the price of grid power, you may want to sell to the grid. This is an ideal situation, so you would not require to have batteries to store power. You would still need an inverter to convert the DC to AC.... but that is unavoidable. If you keep moving power back to the grid, you can end up with a nice annuity income.

Capital costs: The highest costs are those of the land. Other costs such as the actual house, solar cells and the installation are usually a fraction of the land costs. In some countries, there are subsidies to allow you to lease the cells. If you do not consider the land and building costs, the cost of the project would depend on what you use. For a 1kWh system the pricing is around $2,000 in some countries.  This used to be $30,000 just 5 years back!

Future technologies : The case for solar technology is that power costs are always on the rise. We are also on the cusp of some very exciting tech such as OPV (Organic Photovoltaics) which are expected to crash the pricing down due to the lower cost of material and bulk processing (Roll to roll). These are semi-transparent flexible solar cells which are being refined. (Degradation and efficiency is still an issue). While the costs are expected to be less than 1/3rd of the current 1st and 2nd generation solar cells, the lifetime is also not more than 3-4 years (80% efficiency) and efficiencies are being improved as I write this. But organic photovoltaics may one day be on the roof of your car or the blinds on your windows.

References

+Scientific American (Solar Hydrogen House) : http://goo.gl/qDIZOQ

+csiro : http://goo.gl/NiZ1ya

+Inhabitat (Self sustaining house) : http://goo.gl/VZxvN0

+CleanTechnica (Cheaper than grid electricity) : http://goo.gl/mnQwE2

OPV link: http://goo.gl/Kc536v

Zero home case study (Seattle) : http://goo.gl/tBhYW5

From +HowStuffWorks : http://goo.gl/CkXegx

Pics courtesy: http://goo.gl/GuOZKF, http://goo.gl/UAfkvt and http://goo.gl/w9XHLr (clockwise).

#solar #architecture  
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The future of solar : I've been watching the technology developing with interest. If you do happen to see someone come out with a solar paint which has a reasonable efficiency, you would do well to invest. Other approaches include using grass as a solar cell material and mimicking the way Nature does it (artificial photosynthesis). I can't wait to have a virus powered cell which runs a car. But till then, a solar paint would be real handy! Almost all the current technology is in development and requires tweaking to meet with efficiency requirements and energy generation capability. ...

Spray on Solar cells : Silicon-free solar cells, light and flexible enough to roll up or use as window blinds, are under development at a University of Alberta lab. The solar cells are made using nanoparticles — microscopic particles just 30 to 40 atoms across — that are very cheap to produce from zinc and phosphorus, said Jillian Buriak, a University of Alberta chemistry professor and senior research officer of the National Institute of Nanotechnology. Buriak and her colleagues published a description of their solar cell-making process in a recent issue of the scientific journal ACS Nano. (http://goo.gl/dsc2w2)

Artificial Solar Leaf : The new solar cell is about the size of a poker card. It doesn’t produce usable electricity directly, like a photovoltaic cell does. Instead, it is used to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gasses. These are stored in a fuel cell, which then produces the electricity for household use. The idea is to have the combination of solar “leaf” and fuel cell as an affordable onsite renewable energy appliance that practically anyone could afford, just like a furnace, hot water heater or emergency generator. One sticking point in the research was to find a low-cost catalyst to set off the reaction, and Nocera’s team came up with several alternatives made of nickel and cobalt. (http://goo.gl/hHjxFT)

Solar Paint in development : Qiaoqiang Gan, University at Buffalo assistant professor of electrical engineering, is developing a new generation of photovoltaic cells that produce more power and cost less to manufacture than what’s available today. One of his more promising efforts involves the use of plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaic materials. These devices don’t match traditional solar cells in terms of energy production but they are less expensive and — because they are made (or processed) in liquid form — can be applied to a greater variety of surfaces. (http://goo.gl/pydkpK)

Research Paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201203323/abstract

UB Link: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2013/05/018.html

Solar paint (Next Big Thing) : http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Solar-PaintThe-Next-Big-Thing.html

Photosynthesizing Solar Cells: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-02/paint-your-roof-working-solar-cells-made-grass-clippings

Pic description: Energy generated from renewable sources has long promised to satisfy demands for more and cleaner electricity. Because renewable sources, such as sunlight and wind, can produce greatly fluctuating amounts of energy, they are most effectual when excess energy can be stored until it's needed. Read more in this news release. Credit: Prof. Gutierrez/Prof. Hermanovicz/Prof. Lee, University of California-Berkeley (http://goo.gl/0NawSj)

#solar #sprayon #paint #science  
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Solar updraft towers : (or solar towers). Its a very simple concept, hot air rises to the top of the tower (from base collectors), which creates a convection current. The resultant airflow is used to run turbines placed at the 'chimney' base. While this is a green tech, it's largely unproven and has a high initial investment. Though once operational, it's running costs are negligible.

Article Extract: A 1km-high inflatable solar-energy chimney : Per Lindstrand, the engineer who broke numerous ballooning records with Richard Branson, is hoping to develop a 1km-tall inflatable chimney that can capture energy from the sun. Lindstrand is consulting with ALMA Observatory in Chile’s Atacama desert, which is looking for a greener alternative to its gas and diesel generators and that was more robust than solar panels. Lindstrand believes inflatable structures have advantages over concrete, metal or glass models, particularly in desert locations, where the fine sand would clog solar panels, and over metal, which is more complex to fabricate. To generate enough power for the ALMA observatory, the chimney will need to be 1km high with a 7km-radius canopy at its base to heat the air to drives the turbines.

Article Link: http://www.kurzweilai.net/a-1km-high-inflatable-solar-energy-chimney

Additional link : http://www.theengineer.co.uk/energy-and-environment/news/per-lindstrand-plans-1km-high-inflatable-solar-energy-chimney/1017508.article

Wikipedia Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower

La Paz project: http://www.solar-tower.org.uk/la-paz-solar-tower-project.php

CNN Link: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/02/tech/innovation/solar-tower-arizona/

Video link: (EnviroMission): EnviroMission - Solar Tower

Pics Courtesy: Wikipedia & CNN.

#solar #energy #sustainability  
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The Luna Ring : I am fascinated by the amazing quality of thought which comes from JAXA. They brought us the Solar Sail and the asteroid-hopping spacecraft. Now this new concept is seriously revolutionary. While other countries are talking about Space-based solar power, JAXA is working overtime to see how it can be brought to reality. While the future of power is almost definitely Space based (in my view) it remains to see how we can harness this. The Science exists, it now remains for us to engineer it. Such a concept will easily be able to fulfill our power needs.

Shimizu Corporation's Luna Ring concept : Japanese construction firm Shimizu Corporation has unveiled a proposal which would see a solar panel array built around the moon’s equator, collecting solar energy to then be sent back to Earth. The project, entitled LUNA RING, could see construction begin as early as 2035. Using robots to lay down concrete made from moon soil around the entirety of the moon’s equator — 400 km wide by 11,000 km long — the power generated through the solar array would then be transferred along power cables to microwave power transmission antennas which would then beam the electricity to receiving stations located around the Pacific Rim.

NASA's SpiderFab : NASA is already working on a way to actually 3D print the majority of a solar array in space. A project called SpiderFab is planned to launch with a compact bundle of raw materials, and to use it to 3D print the scaffold for a solar power array more than half a mile across. Then, only the panels themselves would need to go up — making the launch much, much cheaper. We still have to ship the same mass into space, but since the scaffold can be shipped as a solid brick of printable material, it can go up like a cannon-ball, compact and cheap to throw.

Article Link: http://theenergycollective.com/joshshill/311636/luna-ring-turn-moon-solar-power-collector

Shimizu corporation pdf: http://www.shimz.co.jp/english/theme/dream/pdf/lunaring_e.pdf

Additional source: http://allseasonsolar.net/dont-collect-solar-power-space/

NASA SpiderFab Architecture: http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech/niac/2013phaseII_hoyt.html#.UqwajeJRbvd

Hypermodular self-assembling Space Solar Power Design: http://arxiv-web3.library.cornell.edu/pdf/1311.4242v2.pdf

Additional Link: http://news.discovery.com/space/private-spaceflight/turning-the-moon-into-a-giant-space-solar-power-hub-131203.htm

+Wikipedia Link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

JAXA Link: http://www.jaxa.jp/article/interview/vol53/index_e.html

Pics coutresy : +JAXA PR , Shimizu Corporation, +NASA and +The Huffington Post.

#space #power #solar +ScienceSunday 
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Sunjammer project : I have been fascinated with solar sails for a long time. I had an interesting discussion with +Fraser Cain wondering if one could create a flapping solar sail on Earth which would then fly a few kilometers up in the air by riding the air currents and then have some assist to reach space. Such an idea could then be used for a 'soft' landing on Mars... Ah well, such are flights of fancy!

Here is the Sunjammer, its mission is to demonstrate non-fuel assisted space flight. It does use solar power - but not in the way conventionally used on Earth. It uses the solar wind which is accretive, but over time, it continues to accelerate. Much faster than conventional rockets.

Article extract: A NASA plan to launch the world's largest solar sail into space and unfurl it like a giant parasol has passed a major test as the mission moves closer to a planned January 2015 launch. Sunjammer mission successfully deployed part of its huge solar sail in a test on Sept. 30, revealing the craft should be ready to function successfully following its January 2015 launch. The giant Sunjammer solar sail, cleared a successful design test that required the deploying beam to stretch a quarter of the sail completely open.

When Sunjammer launches in 2015, it will be the largest solar sail ever flown. Covering an area of almost 13,000 square feet (1,200 square meters), the full sail will span approximately a third the length of a football field. Despite its size, the enormous sail will be only about five millionths of a meter thick, keeping its weight down to 70 pounds (31 kilograms).

Article Link: http://www.space.com/23162-nasa-sunjammer-solar-sail-test-complete.html

Sunjammer website: http://www.sunjammermission.com/home

Video link: Sunjammer: A Mission Of Purpose

Earlier post on the Jaxa Solar sail: https://plus.google.com/103586346709495625226/posts/CpDnmGhBz8M

Solar sail propelled by solar protons: https://plus.google.com/110884604033336753419/posts/HS7ViAFVccD

Wikipedia link on Solar sail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail

#solarsail #sunjammer #space  

Pic detail: Artist's conception of Sunjammer Sail in flight above Earth, Sunjammermission.com
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Harnessing nature’s solar cells : Photovoltaic panels made from plant material could become a cheap, easy alternative to traditional solar cells. Within a few years, people in remote villages in the developing world may be able to make their own solar panels, at low cost, using otherwise worthless agricultural waste as their raw material.

In his original work, Zhang was able to enlist a complex of molecules known as photosystem-I (PS-I), the tiny structures within plant cells that carry out photosynthesis. Zhang and colleagues derived the PS-I from plants, stabilized it chemically and formed a layer on a glass substrate that could — like a conventional photovoltaic cell — produce an electric current when exposed to light.

Now Mershin says the process has been simplified to the point that virtually any lab could replicate it — including college or even high school science labs — allowing researchers around the world to start exploring the process and making further improvements. The new system’s efficiency is 10,000 times greater than in the previous version — although in converting just 0.1 percent of sunlight’s energy to electricity, it still needs to improve another tenfold or so to become useful, he says.

“You can use anything green, even grass clippings” as the raw material, he says — in some cases, waste that people would otherwise pay to have hauled away. While centrifuges were used to concentrate the PS-I molecules, the team has proposed a way to achieve this concentration by using inexpensive membranes for filtration. No special laboratory conditions are needed, Mershin says: “It can be very dirty and it still works, because of the way nature has designed it. Nature works in dirty environments — it’s the result of billions of experiments over billions of years.”

Article Link: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/biosolar-0203.html

Research paper: http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120202/srep00234/full/srep00234.html

#science #scienceeveryday #photovoltaic #solarenergy  

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These Solar-Powered Giant Winged Drones Could Replace Satellites : Titan Aerospace, a small Series A startup from New Mexico, is developing the SOLARA 50, a long-winged plane that will stay aloft for five years at a time, reaching an altitude of 65,000 feet. Titan Aerospace VP Stephen "Ron" Olsen calls the SOLARA 50 an atmospheric satellite and argues that, with a projected cost of less than $10 million, it will be a cheaper, retrievable alternative to conventional satellites.

Though reluctant to talk about specific technologies, Olsen does wax excitedly about the many future applications of the high-flying, solar-powered UAV, including tracking wildlife, mapping fire, patrolling the border, and even providing cellphone coverage to remote areas. "One of these UAVs at 10 miles can replace 100 cell towers," he says. Though some might be discouraged by these failures, the folks at Titan Aerospace believe the relevant technologies—advanced composites, efficient solar cells and lithium batteries—are now mature enough to justify another go at an atmospheric satellite. "We came at the right moment in the timeline," says Cornew. "We are now at the stage that a solar UAV is an assembly job, not an experiment."

Source Article: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/aviation/solar-powered-drones-bright-future-15803525

Gizmodo link: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/tags/solara-50/

Company link and pic courtesy: titanaerospace.com

Video Link: Titan Aerospace, Solara 50

Arstechnica link: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/08/almost-orbital-solar-powered-drone-offered-as-atmospheric-satellite/

#science #scienceeveryday #solar #solarenergy #drones #satellites #mapping
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