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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. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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