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Purdue gets grant to develop cheaper solar cell

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Purdue University researchers are working to increase the efficiency of a new solar cell that they say could become a significant player in energy production.

A team led by chemical engineering professor Rakesh Agrawal is working with solar cells made from copper zinc tin sulfide. The compound known as CZTS is synthesized into nanocrystals that resemble a dark ink that can absorb light.

The ink is applied to specially coated glass squares, heated and applied with nanoelectronics so they can be used to turn sunlight into electricity, the Journal & Courier reported.

Graduate student Erik Sheets said the resulting solar cell is cheaper than silicon-based solar cells on the market.

Agrawal, whose lab was the first to make CZTS nanocrystals, said the focus of the work is to make the solar cell inexpensive and boost its efficiency.

The researchers have received a $750,000 grant from the Department of Energy for their work, which includes making a prototype that can be mass-produced at a low cost.

"The key aspect of our work is to make this inexpensive," Agrawal said.

Currently, the Purdue team's solar cells are one inch square and achieve only 8.4 percent efficient use of the sunlight energy. Agrawal said researchers aim to boost that to 15 percent.

To be competitive with other energy technologies, solar cells must be capable of generating terawatts, or trillions of watts, at a cost of 50 cents per peak watt of electricity, Agrawal said.

The Department of Energy predicts solar energy could provide 14 percent of U.S. electricity needs by 2030 and 27 percent by 2050 if those targets are met.

Graduate student Nathan Carter says he thinks solar power will be "a dominant player" in the nation's energy picture in coming years.

"I think we are going to move away from oil or any one (energy source) dominating 70 percent of energy consumption," Carter said. "It is going to be a much more cooperative effort between solar, wind, natural gas, biomass. But I think solar has the highest potential among any renewable energy."

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  • Evolution takes time
    Just as with earlier "internal combustion" engines, the evolution necessary to make any energy-producing device efficient takes time, money and creativity; Edison didn't do it right until after many attempts, and even then, additional time and creativity made the light bulb more efficient and less expensive;
  • Finally a Commons Sense Approach
    Obama's administration the (US Department of Energy) Should have done this long before squandering government money to solar manufacturing corporations who were on the verge of going bankrupt.

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

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