Solar Panels significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But there is a Catch-22 in that we use fossil fuels in order to create solar panels. BioSolar offers a solution to move us a little farther out of this silly loop, and helps us generate solar power with even less use of petroleum. PV cells made of crystalline silicon use plastic polymers as a backing. And we know what plastic is made of.
BioSolar has figured out how to make that protective backing without plastics, using cotton and beans. The backsheets are made by taking used cotton rags and recycling them into cellulose. The cellulose is blended with a nylon made from castor beans. (Okay, okay, I’m sure it takes some petroleum to modify these materials, and it doesn't take all petroleum out of the product – it is an improvement, not perfection.)
The new backsheets last as long as conventional plastic backsheets, work just as well, and are about 25% cheaper, which helps a solar industry that is working hard to reach price parity with coal. Every little bit counts. And as technology improves for production methods, perhaps we’ll get to zero petroleum use in generating renewable electricity.
written by Carl, September 19, 2008
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