1. Sustainability Problem
Energy: Solar absorbers are used to transform solar radiation into thermal energy for a variety of applications – but many of these absorbers are inefficient. The inefficiency of the technology is a barrier to its large-scale replacement of non-renewable sources of thermal energy.
2. Technology Article Summary
Novel Solar Absorber to Improve Efficiency of Concentrating Solar Power Technology
by Erica Solomon
Published 6/8/2016 on Masdar Institute News at https://news.masdar.ac.ae/explore-news/stories-by-type/transformation/item/9191-novel-solar-absorber-to-improve-efficiency-of-concentrating-solar-power-technology.html
- Researchers at the Masdar Institute and MIT have developed a new technique that can raise the efficiency of a solar absorber to almost ninety percent.
- The technique involves piercing a solar-absorbing film with a pattern of very fine holes (less than 400 nm diamater).
- The nano-porous absorber can absorb a broader range of wavelengths than traditional absorbers, and also uses less material – it has only two layers (a metallic layer over a semiconductor) with a total thickness of 170 nm.
- The ultrathin film also exhibits low radiative losses.
3. Organizational Stakeholders
This technology is still in the research phase, but has potential to affect the following stakeholders:
- Manufacturers of solar absorbers/collectors
- Utilities using solar collectors to generate electricity
- Building owners who could use thermal energy collected by solar absorbers for space and water heating
The next three stages in deploying this technology could be:
- Researchers: optimize metallic coating to reduce costs of manufacture
- Manufacturers: manufacture modular units using the ultrathin film technology
- Building owners and developers: phase in solar thermal panels to replace heating-oil technologies