One of the best ways to add to the efficiency of a solar panel is to create a mechanical means for the panel to track the movement of the sun. Unfortunately, these mechanical trackers are expensive and difficult to maintain.
Sphelar cells are made from small, spherical droplets of silicon, rather than flat films or sheets of material. This configuration allows the cells to efficiently create power at any solar angle, eliminating the need for an expensive and difficult to maintain mechanical tracking equipment. Sphelar cells also are able to better take advantage of indirect and reflected light, as well as the direct light from the sun.
The individual spheres are tiny, measuring only 1mm (less than 1/16 inch) in diameter. Sheets of Sphelar modules can be made flexible and partially transparent. Sphelar cells could also be used to make energy generating glass. The small cells could be applied to conventional glass, and the space between the cells would allow vision and daylighting through the same window.
The manufacturer, Kyosemi, makes the Sphelar cells in a 14 meter (~45 foot) tall tower. Molten silicon is sprayed at the top and crystalizes into small droplets in free fall producing thousands of single crystal spheres each second. The manufacturing process is also highly efficient, with almost no waste of silicon material.
The company is just beginning to develop large scale production, so it will be some time before these start to show up on the market, and it will be some time before we see how much of an impact this technology will have on the solar energy generating market.
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