With New Transparent Solar Concentrators, Glass Towers Can Generate Solar Energy

Posted On Wed, August 20, 2014 By

Posted On Wed, August 20, 2014 By In Green Design, Technology

It’s no secret that super tall, glassy towers are the go-to architectural style for many of today’s leading starchitects. But environmentalists worry that the huge expanses of curtain wall windows are not very eco-friendly. A new product, though, just might satisfy those on both ends of this debate.

Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a new transparent luminescent solar concentrator that creates solar energy when placed over a window. The exciting part is that the product is totally translucent, so people can still see through the window while the green technology is working. The concentrators can also be placed on cell phones or any device with a flat, clear surface.

The team at Michigan State University developed small, organic molecules to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight, in turn harvesting solar energy. Thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells sit on the edge of the plastic and covert infrared light to electricity.

NYC glass towers, Time Warner Center, glass construction, Skidmore Owings & MerrillSoon the glass facades of tall towers like the Time Warner Center could generate solar energy

This type of research is not new, but in past efforts to produce energy from solar cells placed around luminescent plastic-like materials, the energy output was inefficient and the glass products were colored. The new solar concentrators don’t absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, which allows them to appear extremely transparent to the human eye.

Another successful element of the technology is that it has the potential to be scaled for commercial or industrial applications at an affordable cost. The researchers are still working to improve the energy efficiency of the product. Current versions produce a solar conversion efficiency of one percent, but the goal is to reach efficiencies over five percent.

[Via Phys.org]

[Related: Glass Towers to Go Green? Environmentalists are Calling for Stricter Regulations for Supertalls]

Lead image © Yimu Zhao, MSU doctoral student

Tags : , , ,

MOST RECENT ARTICLES

  • Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen list uber-stylish Tribeca loft for $3M

    Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen list uber-stylish Tribeca loft for $3M

    “American Pie” and “Orange is the New Black” actor Jason Biggs married actress and author Jenny Mollen in 2008, after ...
  • Anish Kapoor will bring a spiraling funnel of black water to Brooklyn Bridge Park

    Anish Kapoor will bring a spiraling funnel of black water to Brooklyn Bridge Park

    Brooklyn Bridge Park is the last place we’d expect to find a menacing art installation summoning feelings of nothingness. But ...
  • $5K/month shabby-chic Flatiron District co-op has a solarium and private terrace

    $5K/month shabby-chic Flatiron District co-op has a solarium and private terrace

    Once you settle in to the rustic vibe of this pre-war Flatiron co-op at 41 East 19th Street, you might feel like ...
  • Weekly highlights: Top picks from the 6sqft staff

    Weekly highlights: Top picks from the 6sqft staff

    Hamptons home prices sag as luxury buyers head to hipper Hudson Valley Meg Ryan lists her impossibly chic Soho loft ...
  • Impressive views of 1 WTC from this $3.6M Tribeca loft apartment

    Impressive views of 1 WTC from this $3.6M Tribeca loft apartment

    The living room of this Tribeca loft offers–through big, south-facing windows–impressive views over Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center. ...
  • Hidden tennis courts in Grand Central Station were also once Trump’s exclusive club

    Hidden tennis courts in Grand Central Station were also once Trump’s exclusive club

    Even the city’s most public places conceal secrets paved over by the years, some more hidden than others. Grand Central Station ...
  • Here are the world’s most expensive cities for renters

    Here are the world’s most expensive cities for renters

    We all know big-city living can be expensive, but the proof is definitely in the rent check. According to Nested’s newly released ...
  • Everything in this 432 Park model apartment is for sale; Meet the last original Frank Lloyd Wright owners

    Everything in this 432 Park model apartment is for sale; Meet the last original Frank Lloyd Wright owners

    Designer Kelly Behun created a completely shoppable model apartment on the 92nd floor of 432 Park. [Arch Digest] How the MoMA Store ...
  • A photo-luminescent, solar canopy is coming to MoMA PS1 this summer

    A photo-luminescent, solar canopy is coming to MoMA PS1 this summer

    It never hurts to think of warmer months on days like today, and MoMA PS1’s announcement of whose design will ...
  • The MTA is auctioning off 13,435 pounds of foreign coins

    The MTA is auctioning off 13,435 pounds of foreign coins

    It’s that time of month again when the MTA cleans house and gathers up all the stuff collecting dust in ...
  • More basement apartments would help ease the city’s housing crisis, says new study

    More basement apartments would help ease the city’s housing crisis, says new study

    A study released Thursday by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) suggests that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiatives to ...
  • The Urban Lens: Fly over NYC during ‘golden hour’

    The Urban Lens: Fly over NYC during ‘golden hour’

    6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. ...

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTERS

Thank you, your sign-up request was successful!
This email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.