Photovoltaic Paint On Steel Sheets By The Corus Group

Photovoltaic paint is under development by the Corus Group, an Anglo-Dutch manufacturing combine that makes about 100 million square meters of steel sheets each year. The company hopes to lower its carbon footprint by creating external steel sheeting that give something back - free electricity.


(Strip steel going through Corus' Continuous Annealing Process Line)

The photovoltaic paint is made up of a layer of dye and a layer of electrolytes and can be applied as a liquid paste. Altogether, the sheets of steel get four coats of solar paint — an undercoat, a layer of dye-sensitized solar cells, a layer of electrolyte or titanium dioxide as white paint pigment and, finally, a protective film.

The paste is applied to steel sheets when they are passed through the rollers during the manufacturing process. The four layers of the solar cell system are built up one after the other in rapid succession.

Light hits the dye-sensitized solar cells, exciting the molecules that act as a light absorber or sensitizer. The excited molecules release an electron into the nanocrystalline titanium dioxide layer, which acts as an electron collector and a circuit. The electrons finally move back into the dye, attracted by positively charged iodide particles in a liquid electrolyte.

The photovoltaic sheets have the additional benefit of absorbing light across the visible spectrum. Researchers are now working on methods to apply the paint at a more rapid rate. Larry Niven wrote about this idea in his 1995 story The Woman in Del Rey crater:

Black Power, they call it. It turns sunlight into electricity, just like any solar power converter, but you spray it on.
(Read more about Niven's black power)

The Corus Group claims that their photovoltaic paint on steel is 11% efficient in converting sunlight to energy. I'd like to see some independent verification, but it sounds sfnally great.

From Renewable Energy World.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/5/2008)

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