Two UK researchers, David Worsley and Maarten Wijdekop have made up a paint that could produce electricity by gathering the energy from the Sun. A consortium led by Swansea University in the UK hopes to use that process to cover steel sheets with a photovoltaic paint at up to 40 square metres per minute.The paint will be based on dye-sensitised solar cells. Instead of absorbing sunlight using silicon like conventional solar panels, they use dye molecules attached to particles of the titanium dioxide pigment used in paints.
That combination gives an energetic boost to the electrons, which jump from the dye to a layer of electrolyte. The latter then transfers the extra energy into a collecting circuit, before the electrons cycle back to the dye.
The paint is not as effective as standard sun powered batteries, but they are more cheap and do not require expensive silicon, being applied as a liquid paste.
The researchers say that we should see a commercial version of the paint solar powered cell in two-and-a-half years.
The solar powered paint cells are built up in multiple layers. On the bottom, a layer of regular paint is laid directly on the steel, then the electrolyte and dye layers, and finally a clear protective film to guard against the elements.
The team have successfully painted small demonstration cells onto steel, and they and colleagues at various UK universities are working to improve the performance of the different layers.
We could imagine what consequences this invention could have in the automobile industry, since electric cars are getting bigger market share every year. Hybrid cars aren’t to be neglected, too. The all-known Toyota Prius or other hybrid car can surely be charged in the sun while you work in your office. The power producing paint could freely take you back home.