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MM: Graphene Car Batteries; Setting A Solar Cell Efficiency Record

In this episode of Manufacturing Minute, setting a solar cell efficiency record and building a better car battery from graphene.

Perovskite Solar Cells Sets Efficiency Record

Being flexible, simple to make and cheap to produce are just some of the reasons why perovskite solar cells are the hottest trend in solar technology. 

And now, thanks to a group of researchers at the University of South Wales, the technology has reached another milestone — a new efficiency record.

Researchers claim to have achieved a 12.1 percent energy conversion efficiency rating for a 2.5 square-inch perovskite solar cell. This is at least 10 times the size of the current certified high-efficiency perovskite cells. 

Most commercial solar cells are made from a refined, highly purified silicon crystal and need to be baked above 800 degrees Celsius in multiple high-temperature steps. However, perovskites are made at lower temperatures and are 200 times thinner.

These solar cells — which are flexible enough to be able to be sprayed or painted on surfaces — are made from crystals grown in a perovskite structure. The smooth layers, with large grain sizes, are what allow the cells to absorb more light. 

USW researchers say the technology is a hot area of research and teams are competing to advance the design to be even more efficient. Researchers believe an efficiency rating of 24 percent is possible within a year or so.

SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK? 

Are perovskite solar cells the future of low-cost solar energy? How do you see this technology being implemented in homes or the workplace? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

A Better Car Battery Made From Graphene

Numerous issues, from cost to range anxiety, are impeding the broader car market's embrace of electric vehicles.

But one crucial problem could eventually be resolved thanks to a second-year engineering student in England.

Electric vehicles can take hours to recharge, a serious problem in a market where drivers are accustomed to refueling their cars in a few minutes.

A battery design developed by Josh de Wit of the University of Sussex, however, could reduce those charging times significantly.

de Wit was recently awarded the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award for his concept, which would create a car battery by stacking graphene — or ultra-thin sheets of carbon.

Graphene is lightweight, ultra-strong and highly conductive — and could a wide range of industrial applications.

But in a car battery, it would take far less time to charge.

It would also store more energy, and would be stronger, lighter and cheaper than conventional electric car batteries.

The university's business incubator is currently working with de Wit to develop a prototype and work towards taking the design to market.

SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK? 

Could this concept finally push electric vehicles into the mainstream? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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