Could Buddhist Singing Bowls be the Key to Better Solar Panels?
Sure, that’s quite the perplexing headline. What do Buddhist singing bowls—a type of bell known for its unique sound and shape—have to do with solar panels?
According to Dr. Niraj Lal at Australia National University, solar panels have a lot to gain from mimicking the bowl’s shape.
While completing his PhD at Cambridge, Lal found that the same principle which gives the bowl its unique sound can be applied to capture sunlight. This would allow for more compact solar panels that are much more efficient.
Lal’s design uses nanoscale solar cells, which were found to be 10 times more efficient than regular solar panels.
“Current standard solar panels lose a large amount of light-energy as it hits the surface, making the panels’ generation of electricity inefficient,” Lal said. “But if the cells are singing bowl-shaped, then the light bounces around inside the cell for longer.”
Lal claims his nanobowls perform at four times the efficiency of traditional, flat PV panels because of the process he calls “plasmonic resonance.”
There has been a various research and development into tandem devices, in which multiple materials capture sunlight at a broader spectrum. Lal hopes to incorporate his nanobowls into tandem structures, allowing for more efficient sunlight capture.
“If we can make a solar cell that ‘sees’ more colors and keeps the right light in the right layers, then we could increase efficiency even further,” he said.
The team’s research was published in the IEEE Journal of Photonics and can be found here.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.