It’s hard to argue against the usefulness and utility of solar power panels. An entirely renewable source of energy, solar power provides clean energy that doesn’t harm the earth with almost no work done, as panels simply take in the sun’s rays and turn it into electricity.
Criticizers of solar power, many of whom no doubt have a bias towards the use of fossil fuels, will always bring up one major drawback to the use of solar panels: under poor weather conditions, they’re almost useless.
And such comments aren’t entirely off-base. If there is too much cloud cover or there is a major storm, not enough sunlight is sent through the atmosphere and collected by solar panels to provide energy. This can be a seen as a major problem in areas that experience heavy droughts during certain moments of the year.
But this argument against solar power is nearly irrelevant, as a new innovation in solar panels has found a way to actually use rainy weather to generate energy.
Created by a team of researchers in Qingdao, China, a new solar power cell prototype is now able to generate electricity through incoming raindrops, thus providing a new source of energy that isn’t reliant on the sun’s rays.
The prototype is able to accomplish this feat through the addition of a graphene layer on the solar cells. An incredibly conductive material, the one-atom thick graphene coating is able to generate electricity through a process known as the Lewis acid-based interaction.
To put it simply, graphene acts as a surface that allows electrons to move freely. When rainwater hits the solar panels, the water sticks to the graphene, creating two separate layers, one water and the other graphene. Thanks to the inherent salt in rainwater which serve as charged ions, the difference in energy between the graphene and water layers is actually powerful enough that electricity is generated.
Despite being only a prototype, this innovation heralds a more well-rounded solar panel, one that can function in various weather conditions. If this will completely silence dissenters of solar energy remains to be seen.
To find out more, check out the full report here.
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