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Medicine Power Science

Small Fujitsu Device Harvests Both Solar and Thermal Energy 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the things-to-wallpaper-your-EV-with dept.
destinyland writes "Fujitsu has built a device that can simultaneously harvest energy from either light or heat. They've reduced production costs by using the same cheap organic substrate for both conversion processes, while also doubling the potential amount of energy that can be collected. 'Previously, dual harvesting of energy could only be done by combining two different devices,' the article notes — and the device's solar converter can even draw energy from indoor lighting as well as direct sunlight. Fujitsu predicts the device will be especially useful for powering medical sensors, since the flexible substrate can be included in monitors which conform to the shape of the human body."
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Small Fujitsu Device Harvests Both Solar and Thermal Energy

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  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday December 11, 2010 @06:51PM (#34525960) Journal

    From the article it seems they're using both the seebeck effect [wikipedia.org] and photovoltaic cells to do this with two different semiconductor materials. Basically it's a type of solid state solar thermal power generation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually I think they are using the same semiconductor for both Seebeck and photovoltaic power conversion, as the Fujitsu press release [fujitsu.com] seems to indicate. TFA is a nonsense clearly written by someone who read the press release without having even any clue of what is a semiconductor and therefore got it all wrong. I mean, did they even look at the schematic they copied? I wonder how this ended up linked here on /. instead of the original press release...

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      The Seebeck effect is pretty inefficient, but it does produce electricity from heat which is better than no electricity. If the PV is maxxed but still hot, maybe the extra costs of the material justify the little extra bit of electricity it can add with the Seeback effect. Until we see actual efficiency measurements of an actual device, this announced device could be a waste of time. It always bothers me when a report doesn't mention the efficiency of the power generation or conversion, because it's never h

    • by alphatel (1450715) *
      What's the difference between this and PETE - Photon Enhanced Thermionic Emission solar cells? http://www.alt-energy.info/solar-power/pete-solar-cells-generate-electricity-from-both-light-and-heat/ [alt-energy.info]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    . . . simultaneously harvest energy from either light or heat
     
    So which is it? Both or either?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 11, 2010 @07:07PM (#34526036)

    "It's escaped from the lab, and is now harvesting the energy of the nearby town including its residents. If it continues at its current rate, we're looking at a worldwide extinction event in a matter of days."

  • by Solandri (704621) on Saturday December 11, 2010 @07:41PM (#34526224)
    If it can simultaneously harvest energy from two sources, then it's harvesting from light and heat. If it can only harvest from light or heat, it can't do it simultaneously. If you RTFA, you see that the latter is correct, and so the word "simultaneously" does not belong in the summary.

    Along with the organic material that works as a generator from both light and heat, Fujitsu also used two different semiconductor materials so that the electrical circuits could could change from one mode to the other. Using an N-Type semiconductor, harvests energy from light. Changing to the P-Type semiconductor, harvest energy from heat.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Then why the quote "If either the ambient light or heat is not sufficient to power the sensor, this technology can supply power with both sources, by augmenting one source with the other." ?

  • Cover wind turbine tower bases with solar panels, and maybe find a way to coat the turbine blades with a photovoltaic material as well.

    Plenty of wind and sun in the desert.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      Coat everything that's attached to the grid with PV material, especially things that already have an inverter. Reusing existing infrastructure can cut starting costs by half or more, which makes PV usually cheaper than the other grid generators. Every little bit counts, and the more distributed the solar receivers the more likely somewhere is getting sunlight at any given time. PV on as many roofs as possible not only increases generation, but distributes it around the grid, reducing substantial transmissio

    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      That's not a lot of area which you could cover, and the positioning is not ideal for photovoltaic use. On top of that there is mechanical stress on the photovoltaic panels - you have to expect damage. The rotor would be heavier which would reduce efficiency. I doubt your plan would be economically viable.
      • by Khyber (864651)

        Go look at Nanosolar.

        How do you mechanically stress spray-on photovoltaics?

      • by Banquo (225167)

        Actually if it were attached to a system that could determine which source was better at the time, then switch I think just putting a strip of this down the emergency lanes/inside lanes of all the major roadways in the US would probably provide some insane power. During the day gather sunlight and then in the hours and hours after that the roads maintain heat, gather ambient heat then.

        If you could actually "pave" the roads with a photovoltaic material THEN you're talking serious energy. Major Highways see

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