Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

Hi!
I didn't see any thread on this, so I thought I would start one. One solar researcher puzzled over why we were just using a narrow band of the solar spectrum to energize solar cells, and looked into creating a solar cell that could actually "see" three bands of the solar spectrum, got funding for research, and
developed a solar panel for the Mars Rovers that is at least three times as effective in gathering electricity for the units operation. Considering how small the panels are, it was necessary to come up with a better way to power the unit, and they succeeded. Unfortunately, we haven't seen any of the $5 million investment in those panels yet. Anyone know of where we can buy them at Wal Mart prices?

Comments

  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 1,007 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

    I think that the way those panels are manufactured makes them prohibitively expensive except for aliens from outer space and other planets, but that guy and his research that they did should be available, (and maybe it is?), for all of the US manufacturers at least.

    boB

    EDIT: I bet that NASA will let anyone have those PV modules on the Rovers as soon as they're done with them or as soon as the Rover stops working.
  • H2SO4_guyH2SO4_guy Solar Expert Posts: 213 ✭✭✭
    Re: Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

    What about the Nanosolar technology? Why can't we get some less expensive panels already?
    12K asst panels charging through Midnite Classic 150's, powering Exeltechs and Outback VFX-3648 inverter at 12 and 48 volts.  2080 AH @ 48 VDC of Panasonic Stationary batteries (2 strings of 1040 AH each) purchased for slightly over scrap, installed August 2013.  Outback PSX-240X for 220 volt duties.  No genny usage since 2014. 
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

    and here i thought that unisolar did that many moons ago with their triple junction technology. for the record the rovers were made at carnegie mellon university, but i don't know if they made the pvs or not. hmmm, maybe i should go over there and ask them? naw, it isn't worth the trouble.
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

    Yes, Unisolar does 3 light bandwiths, but even at that they are only 6-8% efficient compare to 10-16% for Si panels.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

    i suppose it could be done with silicon wafer pvs, but the amount of waste and cost to gain that miniscule amount of extra power isn't warranted for basic uses here on earth.
  • TelcoTelco Solar Expert Posts: 201 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

    I came across these links a few years ago. They claim to have discovered a way to use FULL spectrum sunlight to make power, not a narrow bandwidth. If they'd make these, 10 panels would likely be able to provide full McMansion power. The theoretical max efficiency of this new style panel is 70 percent. Haven't seen anything on it approaching a buyable product yet though, just lab stuff. :cry:

    http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/MSD-full-spectrum-solar-cell.html
    http://www.spectrolab.com/
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

    telco,
    it seems you may have stumbled upon the module manufacturer for the pv modules used in the rovers although they don't specifically say they did it. even though they improved the bandwidth curve somewhat it is still the same basic curve and it certainly won't allow huge differences in the overall power production as i believe 70% was mentioned by you, but it seems to be approaching 30% which is good. that company, spectrolab, has been around a very long time and i don't see prices or availabilities for modules using those cells and i'm quite sure it would be very high priced if available just as i said. i would love for you to disprove me.
  • TelcoTelco Solar Expert Posts: 201 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mars Rover Solar Panels--New Tech

    The theoretical max was listed in the first link as 70 percent, heavy emphasis on theoretical. This was due to both materials and method of manufacture.

    "Two layers of indium gallium nitride, one tuned to a band gap of 1.7 eV and the other to 1.1 eV, could attain the theoretical 50 percent maximum efficiency for a two-layer multijunction cell. (Currently, no materials with these band gaps can be grown together.) Or a great many layers with only small differences in their band gaps could be stacked to approach the maximum theoretical efficiency of better than 70 percent."

    The Specrolab site does list a lot of space stuff, and now that I've reread the original article closely and given it some thought, I think I had their site saved due to a search on possible broad spectrum cells, not related to the research listed above.

    I was really hoping those researchers would have turned something out to the home market by now, because I'm getting really close to being able to do this. There's still hope since I figure I'm 2-3 years away from actually getting a place up at this point. Been hunting for the right piece of land for 6 years now.
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