A team of scientists from China has created a new solar panel technology that harnesses the power of raindrops and transforms it into electricity. Their study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie states that the new technology utilises electron-enriched graphene electrode and dye-sensitised solar cell, which can be stimulated by both rain and sun.
“All-weather solar cells are promising in solving the energy crisis,” states the scientists from Ocean University of China and Yunnan Normal University in China. “The new solar cell can be excited by incident light on sunny days and raindrops on rainy days.”
The research team explains that the solar cells are thin-film photovoltaic cells that use organic dye to gather sunlight and creates electrons consequently producing energy. The water clings to the graphene and forms two layers, also known as pseudocapacitor, with the graphene electrons.
This graphene is highly conductive so combining it with the water, which separates into ions namely calcium, ammonium, and sodium produces energy. Apparently, the researchers say that the differences in energy of these layers are strong enough to create electricity.
According to Vasilis Fthenakis, a senior research scientist at Columbia University but did not participate in the new study, the new technology is especially helpful to people living in areas that do not have enough solar energy for solar panel use. The researcher adds that if the new technology’s costs and solar cell optical losses, which is the potential solar cell energy lost, do not overwhelm the positive effects of harnessing the power of rainwater, it may be a good replacement for congenital energy used around the globe.
“The dye-sensitized cells where this is applied are not the type of technology that would be deployed globally as a replacement of conventional energy,” says Fthenakis. “They have applications mostly in diffuse-light applications, not in the high sun regions.”