As you may know, harvesting energy from sunlight can be accomplished in one of two ways: either thermal (capturing the sun’s heat) or photovoltaic (using PV cells to produce electricity). In the case of PV cells, electricity can be generated on-location and fed to an existing electrical system, like your home or business. In the event of overproduction, the electricity flows back to the power company through the same feed lines that serve the building on a 24/7 basis. Thermal solar has always been a bit trickier; there isn’t as much demand for it in areas where temperatures remain fairly high throughout the day (Florida is a great example) and into the night. However, a new advance in a technology known as Selective Solar Absorbers (SSA) might offer a more efficient way to deliver thermal energy without the fluids and complication of traditional solar thermal systems.
A Selective Solar Absorber is a piece of specially treated material that is coated in a completely black, thermally sensitive covering. When the sun’s light hits one of these SSA’s, regardless of the sun’s angle, heat is generated and contained within a well-insulated compartment connected to the SSA array. Production of SSA material has been difficult to say the least – older means of attempting this have resulted in damaged products, incomplete systems and a generally high level of headaches and maintenance required by system owners. However, with the new ‘dip and dry’ technique of manufacturing SSA’s (see link above), there is new promise for consumers who might want to use heat energy to supplement boilers, hot water heaters or other means of heating for home or business.
There are even applications on an industrial scale. Some selective solar absorber systems can be built to be large enough to completely replace steam turbine heat sources. This is something currently being done by ‘solar troughs’ which use a half-pipe style construction of mirrors to focus the sun’s light on a glass tube carrying an oil which can then be used to transfer heat to the desired destination. Because of the new advancement in SSA’s, some forward-thinking companies are beginning to investigate them as potential supplements for energy systems of tomorrow.
Any time we come across exciting developments in solar, we sit up and take notice. Urban Solar prides itself on being a source of excellence and expertise in the field of both residential and commercial solar power systems. If you have an interest in exploring solar power generation systems for your home or business, contact us today and inquire about our completely free energy assessment. After answering just a few questions, we can get you on your way to a more energy-independent way of living and conducting business. We’re standing by – head over to the contact page and we’ll be happy to help.