In another win for green technology, recyclable solar cells have been created using material from trees. This new development in solar energy is courtesy of a research team from Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University. The team of researchers utilized natural substrates from trees to create organic solar cells. They also created these organic solar cells on cellulose nanocrystal or CNC substrates, which make it possible for the cells to be recycled in water at room temperature. When the solar cell is immersed in water, the CNC substrates dissolve easily and makes it easy for the solar cells to be separated into its main components.
According to research team leader Bernard Kippelen, a professor at Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering and also the director of the Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE) , the recyclability factor of the organic solar cells is a significant one because it makes the solar cells more eco-friendly than their predecessors. Organic solar cells in the past have been created on materials that are difficult to dispose of–which results in a whole new waste management problem.
According to the research team, these particular organic solar cells are capable of reaching a 2.7 percent power conversion efficiency. That figure has never been seen before on similar cells that are made from the substrates of renewable materials. The researchers are working toward improving the power conversion efficiency of the solar cells and are also planning to add an eco-friendly coating to the cells to keep them protected from the elements when in operational situations.
Images via Georgia Tech