Removing Salt from Water Using Solar Power

As time passes, solar power is becoming a more cost effective and flexible power source. One area where it is being used with little fanfare is desalination of water.

Removing Salt from Water Using Solar Power

It is rather ironic that the majority of our planet is covered in water, but millions of people are in areas suffering from water shortages. The nature of the irony is clear almost immediately. The oceans of the world consist of salt water, a combination we simply cannot drink.

For the longest time, there has been discussion about converting saltwater into usable, drinkable water. This process is known as desalination. If the process can be used on a large scale in a cost effective manner, it will resolve many of the water issues in the world today whether they exist in third or first world countries.

Desalination is a term used for removing salt and minerals from ocean water. The name suggests one methodology, but there are actually many. Reverse osmosis is currently the most popular and is essentially a filtration process. It is popular in countries that currently have desalination plants such as those found in the Mideast and Caribbean. The process is also gaining more interest in China and the United States where certain regions are suffering habitual water shortages.

One of the issues that arise with desalination is the energy cost. Most plants are powered by fossil fuels, although Russia is currently studying a plant run off nuclear energy. With global warming and energy price concerns on the forefront, many are now looking to renewable energy platforms as an energy source for these plants. Solar energy is one of the options.

Solar desalination plants do not work in the way you might think. Solar energy is not used to provide power to the desalination process, although it probably could be. Instead, the power of the sun is built into the system. The idea is to heat saltwater and turn it into a vapor. The vapor is then run through a condenser system that turns it back into liquid water.

Solar desalination systems work differently, but the idea is to separate the water from salt by using the natural system one finds in the oceans. As you probably know, water evaporates off of the ocean to form clouds in the atmosphere. When the proper conditions occur, these clouds subsequently turn into rain clouds and release the saltless water. Solar desalination tries to mimic the process.

The double concern of rising energy prices and global warming are stimulating research in the renewable energy field. Solar desalination represents just one area where this research is producing tangible benefits.

Source by Richard Chapo

Homemade Solar Panels, 10 Useful Tips For Building High Efficiency Panels – The Power is in the Cell

Homemade solar panels can be made in any size with relative ease and little expense by following some simple directions. There are several steps, but the actual work is quite simple.  A solar panel is nothing more than a shallow box that holds individual solar cells linked together into an array, You can save a ton of money by building your own solar panels, but the energy is  collected by the individual cells, so using the right cells is all important.

Solar cells can be purchased either new or used.  Follow these tips and your homemade solar panels should provide years of reliable service.

1) The number and type of solar cells you use determines the amount of power that each panel is capable of producing. Each cell is rated to produce a certain maximum wattage. The combined total of these ratings will provide a reasonable estimate of the finished panels capacity.

2) Be aware of the type and size of the cells you are considering. Type and size indicate voltage and current, respectively. As a rule, higher current is achieved with a larger cell. Total power output is determined by amps X voltage.

3) Efficiency rating describes the amount of power that can be produced per square inch. Newer, more efficient cells can collect more energy than older, less efficient cells. Efficiency is important because it establishes the size of the completed panel, and available roof space could come into place (i.e. producing more power with smaller panels will require less roof space).

4) A panel’s maximum current capacity is limited by the smallest cell it contains, so use matching cells within each panel. Otherwise the larger cells won’t perform up to their rated capacity.

5) New retail solar cells are more expensive. You can get slightly defective new cells and even used ones. Don’t be scared off by terms like “defective” or “irregular”. These are often cosmetic flaws that haven’t passed the manufacturers standards and usually function just as well as any other new cells provided the defect is not too severe. Investigate and test before writing them off.

6) Handle with care! Solar cells are somewhat brittle and thin. Keep them in a safe place until you are ready to use them.

7) As a related item, if you buy on-line or through the mail, find out how the seller intends to ship them.

8) Make sure the cells you buy have tabs on them already. You’ll be glad you did when you realize you’ve cut your soldering time in half.

9) Each cell must be clean and free of film or wax before being installed. Cells are sometimes shipped with a wax coating and this has to be removed carefully.

10) Get a good instruction guide that will show you step-by-step what to look for and where to find the best sources for all your parts. This will save you thousands of dollars in mistakes, bad purchases and lost time. You’ll refer back to the guide again and again as you grow your system and will easily the small amount paid for the guide on your very first panel.

Source by Nick Molinar

Benefits of Modern Architecture and Solar Panels

The architects of today are building homes that are greener and friendlier for the environment. Homes are designed so that they can include solar panels along with its structure. Heating up homes using solar panels rather than using gas or burning wood or even electricity has its own benefits.

Long-term advantages of using solar

As it has been made clear that the number one benefit of using solar panels is its eco-friendliness. Such renewable resource leaves out no carbon dioxide or smoke to pollute the environment. It helps in reducing pollution and in the long run, slowing down global warming. When people would use solar panels rather than traditional ways of generating electricity, lesser non-renewable energy would be exhausted and eventually, it will lessen the global pollution.

Another great benefit is the costs that are normally incurred on heating bills. After putting in the initial investment in putting up a solar-powered home, the various costs it helps reduce in the long run puts the initial amount in the back of your head. Using solar panels to heat up your home helps homeowners to enjoy a warm comfortable environment and look at less devastatingly heavy heating bills.

Modern architecture accommodates solar modules

Although, the homes of today are being designed strategically so that maximum amount of space is given with huge windows and glass doors, this eventually helps the sunlight to filter in through various spaces. One advantage of that is people can keep their plants inside their home and yet they won’t wither or die because of consistent presence of sunlight. Their nutrients required to keep them thriving are present just because of the architecture of the house. This adds certain elegance to the home as well. Also, it gives one’s house a more spacious look – one of welcoming and brightness. This way, fewer lights are required to be lit, saving more electricity for the night-time when the sun is not present.

Source by YK Hu

The History of Solar Panel Battery Chargers

The history of solar power battery chargers has to begin with the advent of solar power. Attempts to capture the power of the sun have been made since the dawn of man. Realizing its power to give heat and light, intrigued man from the beginning of time. Leonardo da Vinci studied the sun and ways to harness it in the fifteenth century.

Although modern science has taken away the romance of sun gods, mystical beings and other myths and tales, it has not lost its curiosity. Harnessing the suns power to be used in batteries has been around since France decided it needed an alternate energy source long before the fuel shortage of the seventies.

Charles Fritz managed to turn the suns rays into electricity with the first solar cell in 1883. It wasn’t until later in the 1880’s that a solar cell was used to warm water in his house. The studies went on. The possibilities of using up all of the nonrenewable resources was well known in the nineteenth century. People around the world still chose to use coal and other nonrenewable energy sources as though they would never end, or have any consequences.

Three scientists from Bell Labs, Calvin Fuller, Daryl Chaplin and Gerald Pearson made the discovery that silicon was a very good semiconductor. Today solar cells and panels are usually made of silicon.

These small yet applaudable steps were baby steps to the many uses of solar energy today. Now, solar energy is influencing the production of energy much more than those in history ever imagined. It is no longer history, it is the future that depends on solar power and the ability to use the sun as an energy source and to not deplete the earth of nonrenewable resources.

Then the price of oil doubled in the seventies, the government of the United States finally decided to invest time and funds into the development of the solar cell. This is the same solar electric cell that was produced in 1953 by the scientists at Bell Laboratories.

Today the assortment of solar powered battery chargers is amazing. When you inventory your electronic gadgets, you know that everyone needs to be charged in one way or another. You will find out that most of those electric chargers can be replaced by solar battery chargers.

The solar charger contains solar panels. When these panels are placed in direct sunlight, the panels will convert the energy from the sun and store it in your battery. The more energy you want, the larger the solar panel you will need. Portable solar chargers are available and built into many small devices. Solar powered calculators have been around for decades. At first large and cumbersome, they are now pocket sized and more efficient.

Internal solar batteries are usually what you will find in these small hand held devices. Price counts. There are some that are too small to charge the device with just the sun, but can charge the internal battery. Internal batteries will most likely have to be replaced before the device wears out. Replacement of an internal battery will most likely occur every couple of years and is a danger to the ecosystem. A weak battery in a new device is also a potential issue.

External solar chargers are great when you aren’t anywhere close to an electric outlet. You can plug the charger into your device on a beach, in a foreign country or out in a boat with no AC power. They are also great if you are camping. You can get solar panels large enough to keep everything in your camp charged and usable without tapping into electrical power supplies. They are great for any emergency, survival or your pleasure when electricity is not available.

Before you invest in a solar charger, it will be important to see if your appliances and devices can be used with one. The additional purchase of cables may be necessary in some instances.

In order to charge rechargeable batteries you will need a separate solar power charger. Since this will most likely be used outdoors, it is important to buy one that is weatherproof. Keep the connections clean and free from anything that may clog them and the panels themselves will function more efficiently if they are also kept clean and free from dust and grime.

Source by Jordan Eske

Advantages of Solar Powered Water Filter Technologies

With ever-increasing rates of fuel, we need to find renewable sources of energies. Solar energy is one of the natural solutions that are gaining popularity these days. Energy of sun can be utilized in many ways. Harnessing solar energy is free from any kinds of damage and pollution and can be used for everyday needs.

Solar powered water filters are one of the efficient technologies that can replace the machines that require electricity for its working. With minimum input, water solar water purification systems offer drinking water that is healthy and safe. With choice of portable and stationary solar water purifiers available, you can purify water anywhere without any need of being attached to grid. These filters can be used for residential purposes and for large industries.

Solar powered water filters operate with the help of natural energy given by sun that is gathered through solar panels and then converted in the serviceable energy. Solar panels are placed in the direct sunlight for the optimal efficiency, which makes these water purifiers ideal for outdoor activities like camping. Maintenance of these solar powered purifiers is also simple, as they do not demand use of batteries, moving parts and external electronics. As these filters just need sunlight for their operation, they do not need much cleaning.

There are different applications of these solar purifiers. Just as boiling, these distillers help in getting rid of the contaminants. Solar power heats up the water and makes it fit for drinking. Water is heated until the time it starts evaporating and solids and containments are left behind, pure water is received. Portable solar purifiers can distill as well purify from the natural water resources like streams and lakes. Some models available in the market use batteries and solar energy so that charge can be reserved, letting you have an opportunity to use the purifier anywhere, anytime. Solar powered filters can give you larger yield as compared to standard electricity filters.

In case you need more charge, you can hook the solar powered filtered to car or other power source and still can operate by using sun’s energy. Portable solar water filters are a savior in emergencies like earthquakes and floods. They are used for transforming dirty water into pure and clean water for drinking.

Large water purifiers that use solar energy make use of same technology and clean up to hundred gallons of water everyday. Larger gallons can also clean up to thousand gallons a day. Just as portable purifiers, these water purifiers make use of secondary sources of energy like generators but mainly rely on sun’s energy. Communities in various parts of the world are creating homemade solar powered water filters for providing healthy water to their neighbors as well as their own families.

Many places are not connected to clean and healthy water lines, various methods are used for transforming it into natural and less polluted sources of water. All of us require clean water for staying fit and there is no better way to clean the water than solar water purifier.

Source by Jaceline Peirrera

The Emerging Technology of Solar Power

Right now, the best solar panels can reach a peak efficiency of about 15-20%. This is due to the fact that our current solar technology does not allow the panels to use all available wavelengths of light. For example, in a ray of sunlight, there are many different wavelengths. Many of these we can’t even see with our naked eye. The same goes for solar panels.

Sunrgi, an Israeli based solar panel company, has developed a “concentrated” solar cell that can multiply the wavelengths of light to produce much more solar power on a smaller system. While the company is keeping a tight hold on the technology that allows this advanced solar energy, they predict their new panels will produce a kWh for a mere 7 cents. For the average household, this equates to an electric bill of around $80 per month! This beats what most Americans pay now- well over $200 a month for electricity. Better yet, Sunrgi’s new panels convert a whopping 37% of sunlight to usable solar energy! This is more than double the industry standard. Sunrgi is expecting their first panels out by mid-2009.

The University at Tel Aviv is also making huge advancements in solar panel technology. Researchers there have scrapped the idea of using semiconductors within their solar cells. Instead, they have genetically engineered “proteins using photosynthesis for production of electrical energy”. Commercial production of such a technology is several years down the road, but these panels would cost 100x less than conventional silicone and could produce an efficiency around 25%. This makes these panels very attractive to poorer countries that want to go solar but cannot afford conventional silicone panels.

Another promising technological advancement is the increase in efficiency of thin-film solar panels. These thin film panels use 40% less silicone than conventional polycrystalline panels, and are much less expensive. Unfortunately, they also have less efficiency- around 6%. By the end of 2009, some researchers are estimating they will be able to produce thin film solar cells with efficiency between 8-10%. This makes then more comparable to conventional solar panels. Plus, more people will be able to buy these less inexpensive panels.

Further developments in solar panel technology are in the battery systems you can use alongside your panels. Every year, new batteries come out that last longer and store more energy than ever before. This increases the environmental friendliness of solar technology so that batteries don’t have to be thrown out or recycled as often.

Solar energy may seem expensive, but the long-term benefits are priceless. Where else can you get 25 years of reliable energy costs around $80 a month? Certainly not from your utility company. Solar energy is reliable, has zero carbon emissions and easily pays for itself within 8-10 years of purchasing. For the future of the world’s electric supply, residential solar power systems may be the best answer to a limitless resource: the Sun.

Source by Philip Richards

What If Everyone Used Solar Power Energy at Home?

Did you know that if we equipped half the houses in America with full-sized solar panels, there’s the potential that we could power the entire U.S. with solar power? The location of the panels would have to be strategically placed to maximize solar efficiency, but once in place, America could have 25 years of energy independence from foreign oil for electrical needs.

A great example of how this energy can impact local neighborhoods is Iwaki New Town, Japan. Their neighborhood has 46 homes fully equipped with solar power. These 46 homes provide 310,000 kWh a year, which can power over 90 households! Iwaki New Town’s climate is much like many cities in Southern and Western U.S. It’s sunny between 250-300 days out of the year, and there’s very little snow.

If we equipped every home in Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California, the U.S. would have over 70% of its electricity needs met with only the sun’s power. If you add less sunny states such as Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nevada and Utah, we could easily power 100% of America’s electrical needs with solar  alone. If every commercial business in America used this abundant resource regardless of their location, we could actually produce more electricity than what we would need.

Imagine that- other countries such as Canada and Mexico dependent on the U.S. for energy. Such benefits could be pumped back into maintaining those solar systems and increasing the incentives for homeowners to start using renewable energy.

Furthermore, the carbon footprint of solar power is infinitesimal when compared to conventional gas and electric systems. The only carbon footprint produced from solar panels is the tiny amount of carbon used in production. The myth that it takes more carbon to produce a solar panel than to run one is false. Once running, a panel has zero carbon emissions and lasts over 25 years. Just one large solar power plant producing over 1mW a year replaces over 1500 cars on the road in regards to carbon footprint-A YEAR. Over the course of 25 years of reliable renewable energy, this equates to over 37,500 cars for just one solar power plant!

The other perk to using the power of the sun is the recyclability of the the panels, inverters and batteries. Once a panel fails, it’s easily recycled to produce more panels. The glass and solar cells can be melted down and “recharged” to make even more panels. The same goes for the electrical components such as the inverter and battery. Metals within the inverter can be melted down to create more electrical diodes and pairings, and the batteries can be remanufactured to make more batteries. This is similar to what we do with cell phones that have been recycled. Recycling plants that recycle these parts could also be run on solar power, further reducing our carbon footprint as we recreate new solar energy systems and recycle old ones.

Best of all, as this type of energy gets more popular, the cost of these systems invariably goes down. Plus, as we recycle more of these systems, more parts become available and more homeowners can invest in the solar panels industry. It may seem like a huge cost, but when you consider the rising cost of electricity, how can we justify not using solar power?

Source by Philip Richards

Top 3 Ways to Harness Solar Energy

One of the greatest sources of free energy, both in the amount and power of that energy, is the sun, and here are the top 3 ways to harness solar energy.

Let’s face it, without the sun, there’d be no life, so it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of the sun to our planet. Not only does it sustain life as we know it, it also supplies thousands of times more power in a single day than we humans use in a whole year.

Which means we’re only tapping into a small fraction of the energy available to us, so we could do a much better job of harnessing the sun’s energy than we are doing. But, until we come up with new ways to use the sun’s energy, these are the top 3 ways to harness that energy.

1. Generating Solar Electricity

This is the way of harnessing solar energy that most people are probably familiar with, or, at least, the one they think of when solar energy is mentioned. That’s not to say people generally understand the details of how it works, but they’re at least aware that solar panels are used to generate electricity.

How it’s done is another matter. That would be via the use of a scientific discovery called the “photovoltaic effect”, which was the work of a French scientist named Edmund Becquerel, who noticed that sunlight reacted with certain materials such as selenium to generate a tiny charge of electricity.

This discovery has been refined over the years and today solar cells made from silicon are wired together in a metal frame to form a panel, which, when joined together with several more panels to form an array, can generate enough electricity to power a home’s electrical devices and appliances.

PV (a popular abbreviation for photovoltaic) technology is being embraced as one of the best ways for us to combat and hopefully defeat the effects of carbon emissions and global warming, and more people are taking advantage of its benefits for both themselves and the environment.

2. Using Solar Thermal Energy

Solar thermal has been around for centuries, although most people don’t realize that that’s the name given to it when they hear of such things as the ancient Greeks using glass and mirrors to generate heat from the sun centuries ago. This was early solar thermal.

Nowadays, the most common applications for solar thermal are to provide hot water and heat for homes and businesses and to heat swimming pools. Hot water and space heaters usually use a storage tank to hold the heated water, whereas solar pool heaters recycle the pool’s water through collectors which heat the water and transfer back to the pool.

3. Heating And Cooling From Passive Solar

When you open your drapes in the morning to allow the sun in, you’re using passive solar in its simplest form. Passive solar is any means by which we take advantage if the sun’s energy to supply heating and/or cooling to rooms and buildings.

Passive solar can be as simple as just shown, but is usually somewhat more complex as a technology and design feature. Passive solar systems are designed to store the sun’s energy in what’s known as a thermal mass, which is basically some type of material such as certain types of wood, concrete, etc., which retains the energy for later use as heat when the temperature cools.

Passive solar can also be used to provide ventilation via solar chimneys.

These are the most common ways currently used to harness solar energy, and combining these methods would be a great way to make a home almost completely energy independent. But, together or separately, they can go a long way to helping reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.

Source by Ray Boreham

3 Ways to Collect and Use Solar Energy

If you measure the sun’s power in terms that compare it to the energy produced by oil, the sun gives enough energy to the Earth in about 20 minutes to fulfill all of the planet’s requirements for a year! And in fact, solar energy already provides a great deal of power to the Earth by transforming through a variety of natural means, by heating surfaces, influencing weather phenomenon, and even through photosynthesis, which provides plants with the energy they require in order to grow.

So what are some ways that we on Earth can take better advantage of all this freely distributed solar power? Energy from the Sun can be processed in three primary ways:

1. Passive Solar Techniques

This refers to the ways that the sun’s light and heat can be used to advantage without any further processing needed. This category includes things as simple as allowing sunlight to stream through a window and into a home, warning the rooms naturally.

Some ways to take advantage of passive solar techniques would be use of energy efficient windows, and planning the best placement of concrete and ceramic floors so that they can collect and store more sunlight.

A building that has been optimized for passive solar may have additional windows placed on the south side, for instance, to take advantage of the most hours of sun per day. Even something this simple can greatly reduce home energy bills.

2. Collection of Solar Energy

Solar power can be collected and stored as heat energy. Solar Collectors take in solar radiation and then concentrate it into very defined areas, increasing the strength and heat of the energy. These can be used to heat or cool water or rooms, or to create power to enable air or liquids to transfer heat to a separate location.

Different types of solar collectors include:

– A set of pipes that fits into a copper or metallic flat plate that has been insulated inside a box under glass. The sun streaming through the glass produces heat in the plate, which is then directed into the liquid in the pipes. This is known as a “Flat Plate Collector”.

– A tube is a more efficient way of collecting solar energy at high temperatures. This type of solar collector is made from a series of tubes, which are then installed in separate glass vacuum tubes. These prevent the inner tubes from cooling, and ensure that more heat is sent into the fluid. At extremely high temperatures, a reflector may be used in order to concentrate the solar energy into the tubes.

– Heating water using solar power was the first use of solar energy, starting in the early twentieth century. These systems can be used year round (even in cold climates when combined with use of anti-freeze), and are now commonly seen in many countries.

– Solar powered air heaters mounted to a wall are used primarily to heat the ventilation air for buildings that have large open spaces. The air comes through holes in a dark metal container where it is heated and is then taken into the building.

– A newer form of solar collector involves the use of mirrors to run steam turbines that create electricity. These thermal power systems are becoming particularly popular in hot, dry climates where there is a great deal of both sunlight and open land.

– Evacuated tube collectors can also be used to power cooling systems by taking the high temperature heat from the tubes. This technology can help reduce the use of natural gas, which would ordinarily be used to run cooling systems.

3. Solar Cells

Solar energy can be turned into electricity through use of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. This method uses modules each consisting of an array of solar cells which are connected together inside a glass covered container. Any number of these modules can be used together in order to produce a larger or smaller amount of power, depending on what is needed for a particular application. PV solar cells are usually made from crystalline silicon or quartz. Other materials that can be used are amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, or copper indium di-selenide.

The cost of making PV cells and solar panels (modules) has been decreasing recently with the development of new manufacturing techniques. These are widely used to provide power for remote stand-alone structures such as lighthouses and radio towers, and for heat and lighting in developing countries. The use of solar panels to supply energy for home use is increasing in developed countries as well, and many governments are encouraging their use by providing financial incentives to those who install solar panels for their residences. In addition, improvements in the process of constructing solar panels is now making it much easier for people to build their own, at a dramatic cost saving over commercial panels. It is now quite feasible for a homeowner to save a great deal on electricity by building and installing their own solar panels.

Source by Beth Warwick

10 Benefits of Solar Energy

Benefits of Solar Energy:

1. Solar energy is renewable. We never have to worry about running out of sunlight or using it all up. The sun is a consistent power source meaning it’s always going to be there every day.

2. Solar energy is environmentally friendly. Compared to fossil fuels which release greenhouses gases, carcinogens and carbon dioxide, solar cells don’t release anything into the air.

3. Solar panels are extremely reliable. There are no moving parts so you don’t have to worry about replacing anything. In fact, most people generate electricity for 1000s of hours with little or no maintenance.

4. Solar cells make no noise while collecting energy. There are no other renewable energy sources that are completely silent.

5. In the long run, solar electricity is cheaper than buying it from the power company. There is a start up cost, but then it starts paying for itself. Once you break even, everything after that is profit. Compare this to paying a monthly bill and getting no return on investment.

6. There is a huge variety of solar panel systems available. Some can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and some cost just a couple hundred. This means anyone can get into solar, there’s an entry point for just about everybody.

7. You’re not required to connect to the power grid. You can be completely self-sufficient and live off-the-grid. Imagine never paying another monthly bill or hook-up charge.

8. Sell excess electricity. If you build a large enough solar panel system, you can make your electric meter spin backwards! Most power companies will gladly buy or credit you for this excess electricity. Contact your local power companies for more details.

9. Government tax credits. Most governments will provide some kind of tax credit or incentive for people purchasing solar energy systems. On average, rebates usually cover 20-30% of the system cost. Contact your local representatives for more details.

10. Solar technology is constantly improving. Solar installations are increasing by an incredible 50% every year, most of which are small homemade systems. Learn how to make your own solar panels and use the benefits of solar [] energy to your advantage.

Source by Justin R