Rain Drops Powered Solar Panels: Electric Rain

graphene-electricity- from-falling-rain

Over the years, advancement in technology has helped in harvesting sun’s energy to maximum potential using solar panels. A recent development takes solar technology to the next level, here, the technology will not only help in generating electricity during rainfalls but also when the sky is covered with clouds. Thus, rain and sun both can trigger the innovative solar cell design. 

A joint effort of a team of scientists from the Ocean University and the Yunnan Normal University has created a solar panel that efficiently works during both sunshine and rains. The team achieved this breakthrough electricity production from rain droplets, by applying a thin layer of graphene on the solar panels.

Graphene Based Electricity

Graphene coated solar cells produce electricity from sunlight just as normal solar cells do. But when it starts to rain, the graphene based electricity production kicks into action. The graphene-covered solar cells are based on a simple chemical process known as the Lewis acid-base interaction. Acid-base reactions, where, bases donate pairs of electrons and acids accept pairs of electrons.

Raindrops contain dissolved salts laden with positive and negative ions. During the rain, the graphene coating and water interacts, graphene acts as a source of delocalized negative ions while water containing positive ions as sodium, calcium and ammonium creates a pseudo-capacitor and thus stimulate electric currents that can be harvested and put to use.

All Weather Solar Cells

For now, the new technology is in concept stage, generating only hundreds of microvolts of electricity. However, the solar panels are known to have efficiency valuation of just 6.53% way below the industry standards. The all season solar cell concept has a long way to go before it can reach commercial stage but it still looks promising. If scientists could further improve the graphene cells efficiency the solar panels can be used in new areas where climatic conditions did not favor the use of existing solar technology.

So far, the solar technology looks good however, I was thinking would the amount of salt ions in rainwater sufficient of producing an economical product?

[Nature World Report]

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