Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cheap Energy with New Solar Device

Submitted by: John Schiffner
Researchers and scientists are putting on endless effort to make the sources of energy clean and green. There are many devices in the market that run on solar energy. The alternative energy atmosphere is charged with anticipation and excitement. But till now one of the biggest dampeners in green energy scenario is the prices. Fossil fuels are available cheaply all over the world. But solar, wind, geothermal or biofuels are still expensive and out of reach of commoners.
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The University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab has paid attention to this particular aspect. They have produced the first prototype of a solar device that will hopefully not be outrageously priced. The device’s inventor Roger Angel’s expectations will ultimately generate electricity from the sun at a price akin to the cheapest fossil fuels. That’s what manufacturer and consumer both want. Every manufacturer aims for profit and all end users want to save money.

Roger Angel’s prototype makes use of mirrors. These mirrors are arranged in such a way that 21 segments form an array in a parabola on a lightweight aluminum frame. This arrangement helps in focusing the sun’s light on a small solar cell. Its first prototype is supposed to be shipped next week to Raytheon Missile Systems. This design could be used to build portable solar generators for battlefield deployment. This fact is reveled by Eric Betterton. He is a UA professor of atmospheric sciences and he is also the principal investigator for the project.
The prototype costs around about $300,000 to engineer and assemble, with its mirrors forged individually in the mirror lab and hand-coated. This project is undertaken by the UA with grants from Science Foundation Arizona. Angel who is the Mirror Lab’s founder and director, said the device uses only about $200 worth of glass and ultimately could be mass-produced for $1,500. It is estimated that at that price, the device would produce energy for $1 a watt. This is as cheap as coal-burning electrical plants.

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