In recent years, solar energy has seen incredible growth around the world thanks to solar panels installed on the roofs of homes and businesses. Now, however, a new way of harnessing this energy from the sun through solar painting is being developed which, although it was created a little over ten years ago, now looks all the rage with a new type of paint already patented and which certainly takes advantage of all the energy of the sun to obtain electrical energy, so we explain in detail What is solar paint?, how it works and where it can be purchased.
What is solar paint?
Developed by a group of researchers from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), In Australia, the patented solar paint in 2018 uses chemical compounds to capturing water vapor (H2O) from the environment and, with solar energy, breaking it down into molecules of oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H).
The latter, along with solar and wind power, is considered one of the renewable energy sources of the future and one of the substitutes for fossil fuels. It can be used as an energy source for the production of electric power, with hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen combustion engines.
How solar paint works
To carry out this process, researchers added a newly developed compound that acts similarly to silica gel to sun paintThese little balls that are usually found in bags inside shoe boxes to absorb moisture, but which also acts as a semiconductor, since it is made up of another compound, molybdenum sulfide synthetic.
This compound, when exposed to sunlight, acts as a catalyst for the process of splitting oxygen and hydrogen atoms in water. To help capture the light, A mixture called titanium dioxide, a white pigment already used in paints, was added to the mixture. This means that the simple addition of a new substance can turn the bricks in a wall into a source of energy capture and production, which until now has been totally unthinkable.
According to the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Torben Daeneke, this combination allows a wall painted on the basis of this solar paint to become a mini generator of clean and renewable energy. In addition, according to him, this invention has a very wide potential, given its advantages.
As explained, with solar paint, no clean or filtered water is needed to power the system. Any place that has water vapor in the air, even areas far from water, can produce fuel.
Can you buy solar paint?
Although solar paint has already shown its first positive results in the lab, researchers say it it will be necessary to wait at least five years before seeing the first real applications of this solution, because it is now necessary to find a way to store this produced hydrogen.
However, when this new solution hits the market, it will join other diverse innovative technologies that are helping to evolve photovoltaic technology and make the world’s transition to a future with more sustainability and quality of life.
The first version of solar painting
As we can see, solar painting could be something really achievable in just five years, it will be necessary to see that yes, how much it can cost to paint the walls with this paint capable of generating energy, but the truth is than This is not the first project that arises in this regard.
Before the solar paint we talked about, and which is also known commercially (although it is not yet for sale), under the name of “Solar Paint”, A team of scientists and researchers have already been able to develop a similar picture in 2011.
The first version of solar painting was designed in the USA by a group of scientists led by Professor, Kamat Prashant, Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Engineering, Catholic University of Notre Dame, Indiana, who made a kind of paste composed of nanoparticles capable of producing electricity.
The Pasta created, could generate energy when applied to any transparent and conductive material, thanks to its composition from semiconductor particles made of titanium dioxide and fully coated with cadmium sulfide or cadmium selenium, with water and alcoholic solution.
The research on solar painting carried out by prof. Kamat Prashant and his team was an innovative project, being of particular relevance in the photovoltaic section which seeks small alternatives in the exploitation of solar radiation and which have more accessible costs for all.
As one could prove, this first solar painting had the potential for accumulation, conversion and exploitation of solar radiation with an energy yield of 1% , compared to 10% of traditional silicon-based solar panels. The fully stretchable solar paint lowered costs compared to ordinary solar cells, but the energy efficiency was still very low.
For this reason, the sole focus of Professor Kamat Prashant and his team since then has been improve the composition of the raw materials from which solar paint is made, as well as the promotion and increase of power generation capacity, with an emphasis on innovation be able to fully integrate photovoltaic energy in all buildings something that is not yet possible to install, such as vertical surfaces of skyscrapers or skyscrapers, which would create additional spaces to make the most of solar radiation.
Today, science continues to advance with renewable solutions that make it possible to produce energy without having to resort to conventional electric power. Who really knows if in a few years we will be able to go out and buy solar paint for our house, surrounded by solar panels. For now, the first steps have already been taken and we should be happy about it.