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  1. 26 Jun '14 08:56 / 3 edits
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-tofu-ingredient-revolutionise-solar-panel.html

    "...Cadmium chloride is currently a key ingredient in solar cell technology used in millions of solar panels around the world. This soluble compound is highly toxic and expensive to produce, requiring elaborate safety measures to protect workers during manufacture and then specialist disposal when panels are no longer needed.

    Now, a University of Liverpool researcher has found that it can be replaced with magnesium chloride, which is extracted from seawater and is already used in products such as tofu, bath salts and for de-icing roads.

    Safe and at a fraction of the cost – $0.001 per gram compared to $0.3 – it has also been shown in the study to be as effective as the expensive and toxic alternative.

    Physicist, Dr Jon Major from the University's Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy carried out the research. He said: "If renewable energy is going to compete with fossil fuels, then the cost has to come down. Great strides have already been made, but the findings in this paper have the potential to reduce costs further."

    The cheapest solar cells being manufactured today are based on a thin film of insoluble cadmium telluride (CdTe). Alone, these cells convert less than two percent of sunlight into energy. By applying cadmium chloride to them, this efficiency increases to over 15 percent.
    Solar simulator measuring a cell’s efficiency. Credit: University of Liverpool

    Liverpool research, however, has shown that magnesium chloride can achieve the same boost to efficiency.

    Dr Major said: "We have to apply cadmium chloride in a fume cupboard in the lab, but we created solar cells using the new method on a bench with a spray gun bought from a model shop.

    "Cadmium chloride is toxic, and expensive and we no longer need to use it. Replacing it with a naturally occurring substance could save the industry a vast amount of money and reduce the overall cost for generating power from solar."

    ..."

    Obviously, this is good news for solar power. I think this might help make solar cells more cost effective and solar power adapted much more across the world and just maybe significantly sooner.
  2. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    26 Jun '14 09:40
    Originally posted by humy
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-tofu-ingredient-revolutionise-solar-panel.html

    "...Cadmium chloride is currently a key ingredient in solar cell technology used in millions of solar panels around the world. This soluble compound is highly toxic and expensive to produce, requiring elaborate safety measures to protect workers during manufacture and then specialist ...[text shortened]... ffective and solar power adapted much more across the world and just maybe significantly sooner.
    You got there just before I did

    I didn't know there was this toxic stuff needed for PV cells. Great news. Road de-icer!
  3. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    29 Jun '14 12:24
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    You got there just before I did

    I didn't know there was this toxic stuff needed for PV cells. Great news. Road de-icer!
    I spent a little time reading the wikipedia page on photovoltaic cells. There are several technologies each with advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of the Cadmium telluride technology is that you can provide a thin film. The downside is they have to use toxic chemicals, tellurium is very rare, and the power efficiency isn't as good. I don't think that solar cell production is the most ecologically friendly activity in the world.

    I think this all depends on the kind of cost benefit analysis that we can't really do in a thread.
  4. 29 Jun '14 17:16
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I spent a little time reading the wikipedia page on photovoltaic cells. There are several technologies each with advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of the Cadmium telluride technology is that you can provide a thin film. The downside is they have to use toxic chemicals, tellurium is very rare, and the power efficiency isn't as good. I don't ...[text shortened]... think this all depends on the kind of cost benefit analysis that we can't really do in a thread.
    I don't think that solar cell production is the most ecologically friendly activity in the world.

    So what is and why?
  5. 29 Jun '14 20:16 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    I don't think that solar cell production is the most ecologically friendly activity in the world.

    So what is and why?
    In terms of power generation...

    The two safest power generation technologies in terms of people killed per TWhr generated
    are [in order] Wind power, and Nuclear.

    And unlike wind or solar, nuclear power can be built close to cities where it's needed and
    doesn't take up vast areas of land. And the amount of waste is pathetically small.


    EDIT: This is by no means to say that I don't think we should be doing solar or wind,
    or other renewables. But the backbone of our power generation should, and needs to
    be nuclear. As a conservative estimate we need to treble our power generation worldwide
    by the end of the century... and achieving that mainly with wind and solar means
    covering vast tracks of land with solar panels and wind turbines, and requires huge grid
    storage capacity to deal with intermittent generation. France showed that it was and is
    possible to mass build nuclear power for cheap reliable energy. And it doesn't require
    inventing any new technology.
  6. 29 Jun '14 21:10 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    In terms of power generation...

    The two safest power generation technologies in terms of people killed per TWhr generated
    are [in order] Wind power, and Nuclear.

    And unlike wind or solar, nuclear power can be built close to cities where it's needed and
    doesn't take up vast areas of land. And the amount of waste is pathetically small.


    EDIT: ...[text shortened]... nuclear power for cheap reliable energy. And it doesn't require
    inventing any new technology.
    The two safest power generation technologies in terms of people killed per TWhr generated
    are [in order] Wind power, and Nuclear.

    I don't doubt that this may be currently true but don't see how that makes solar less “ecologically friendly”.
    Besides, solar panels and how they are manufactured and other related technologies are improving all the time and it is just a matter of time before virtually no deaths at all are directly/indirectly caused by solar power and solar power would also become ecologically friendly in every way ( That would require ALL the energy used for the manufacture of solar panels coming from renewables/nuclear )

    P.S. I have nothing against nuclear in principle but don't think it would be a significant contributor in the very long run.
  7. 29 Jun '14 21:58
    Originally posted by humy
    The two safest power generation technologies in terms of people killed per TWhr generated
    are [in order] Wind power, and Nuclear.

    I don't doubt that this may be currently true but don't see how that makes solar less “ecologically friendly”.
    Besides, solar panels and how they are manufactured and other related technologies are improvi ...[text shortened]... nuclear in principle but don't think it would be a significant contributor in the very long run.
    Well I disagree that nuclear wont be significant in the very long run...

    But can we at least agree that it's going to, and should, be huge in the short to medium term?

    With nuclear power the west [and china] could go carbon free in 10~15 years with nuclear
    power any time we choose.

    There is no other carbon free power source you could seriously say that about.
  8. 30 Jun '14 07:09
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Well I disagree that nuclear wont be significant in the very long run...

    But can we at least agree that it's going to, and should, be huge in the short to medium term?

    With nuclear power the west [and china] could go carbon free in 10~15 years with nuclear
    power any time we choose.

    There is no other carbon free power source you could seriously say that about.
    But can we at least agree that it's going to, and should, be huge in the short to medium term?

    Because we have renewables and off-the-grid storage that collectively remove any essential need for nuclear (not implying that this is an argument to reject nuclear altogether ) and because renewables and off-the-grid storage will become cheaper to the point where it probably eventually become more cost effective than nuclear virtually everywhere, not sure if it would ever be 'huge' (esp across the whole world ) nor whether is ever should be 'huge' but I still think it could become important in the short to medium term, yes.
  9. 30 Jun '14 09:25
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    There is no other carbon free power source you could seriously say that about.
    Why cant you do that with wind and solar?
  10. 30 Jun '14 09:26
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Why cant you do that with wind, solar and geothermal?
  11. 30 Jun '14 10:24
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Why cant you do that with wind and solar?
    Cost and time.

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_Electricity_Generation_Pie_Chart.png

    Wind and Solar make up 2.7% of worldwide electricity generation. [Geothermal doesn't even show up
    on the chart, and hydrothermal emits methane and floods huge areas of land]

    Solar panels are currently expensive and toxic and polluting to produce.

    Wind turbines are made by a few specialists and would require a massive massive scaling
    up in production.

    Both require huge grid level energy storage... Which is both very expensive, and we don't
    currently have a reliable cost effective technology to do energy storage on that kind of scale.

    Both take up HUGE areas of land, requiring planning permission and local acceptance.

    Wind farms screw with military and civilian air traffic radar.



    France generates 80% of it's power in 50 buildings. It's power is cheaper than neighbouring Germany's
    and they have half the per-capita CO2 emissions.

    And bear in mind, worldwide energy use is growing rapidly.

    If we want electric cars [either hydrogen fuel cell or battery] then we will have to generate the electrical
    equivalent of all the energy used in cars today.

    If we take the conservative estimate that worldwide energy generation will triple by 2100 then you are
    looking at doubling the electricity generation required in ~40 years [or less].

    In the years Germany has been pouring money into it's solar program, which after decades of investment
    can on a bright midsummers day just about generate 1/2 their electricity demands, when demand is at it's
    lowest and generation at a maximum... They could have built ~50 nuclear reactors and coupled with their
    renewables have 100% green energy.

    The UK has been investing heavily in wind generation for decades, and we manage a grand total of 9%
    renewables ex-hydro electric. [of which 4.7% is wind, 2012 numbers]. And this is achieved with ~4,400
    wind turbines in 397 wind farms around the country. We are looking to get the number to 20% with over 7000
    turbines... It's not a given we are actually going to achieve that... Meanwhile we are making up the rest
    with gas and coal generation.

    As a contrast we make ~17.6% of our power from 14 Nuclear reactors on six sites.

    So it would take ~60 nuclear power stations of equivalent size to generate the remaining ~80% after renewables.


    We want green air travel, which requires that air travel finds a fuel that emits no CO2...

    Biofuels take up huge amounts of land we need for growing food and for remaining wild habitat... Or, like hydrogen
    they require energy input to make.

    So green air travel will want to use [huge] amounts of electricity.

    We want to stop burning fossil fuels in industry, so we need electric induction heaters or hydrogen production
    to replace gas for firing our furnaces... more electricity use.

    We want electric trains, electric cars... And we still individually use more and more electricity.


    Green advocates keep saying "get more efficient, use less"... And they might as well be whistling into the wind.


    The thing is, quality of life is related almost directly to energy consumption. There is a reason we use more and
    more devices and energy... it's giving us what we want.


    Nuclear can deliver that power without destroying the planet. And can do so for thousands of years, way long enough
    to get Fusion working. Or big space installed solar generation, or whatever.



    I'm sorry but nothing else PRACTICALLY can deliver that TODAY without inventing new technology.
  12. 30 Jun '14 10:37
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Wind and Solar make up 2.7% of worldwide electricity generation. [Geothermal doesn't even show up
    on the chart, and hydrothermal emits methane and floods huge areas of land]
    How is the current percentage of power output relevant to the cost and time it takes to build new power plants?

    Solar panels are currently expensive and toxic and polluting to produce.
    But cheaper than nuclear. I am not sure how you would do a comparative measure of the pollution.

    Wind turbines are made by a few specialists and would require a massive massive scaling
    up in production.

    Obviously. But the same applies to nuclear. What makes this scaling up a problem?

    Both require huge grid level energy storage...
    But not initially.

    Which is both very expensive, and we don't
    currently have a reliable cost effective technology to do energy storage on that kind of scale.

    Yes we do.

    Both take up HUGE areas of land, requiring planning permission and local acceptance.
    Not true for solar. There is plenty of roof space and car parks just waiting for it.

    France generates 80% of it's power in 50 buildings. It's power is cheaper than neighbouring Germany's and they have half the per-capita CO2 emissions.
    Irrelevant. Try not to forget what your original claim was.

    And bear in mind, worldwide energy use is growing rapidly.
    Irrelevant.

    In the years Germany has been pouring money into it's solar program, which after decades of investment can on a bright midsummers day just about generate 1/2 their electricity demands, when demand is at it's lowest and generation at a maximum... They could have built ~50 nuclear reactors and coupled with their renewables have 100% green energy.
    Again, irrelevant. The cost of renewable has dropped significantly in the last 2 years.

    The UK has been investing heavily in wind generation for decades, and we manage a grand total of 9% renewables ex-hydro electric.
    How heavily. Please tell me how much they invested in comparison to other energy technologies - including nuclear.

    Biofuels take up huge amounts of land we need for growing food and for remaining wild habitat... Or, like hydrogen they require energy input to make.
    How is Germany doing it?

    Nuclear can deliver that power without destroying the planet.
    So can wind, solar and geothermal.

    I'm sorry but nothing else PRACTICALLY can deliver that TODAY without inventing new technology.
    I am sorry, but most of your post was rambling instead of actually backing up this claim.
  13. 30 Jun '14 11:23
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    How is the current percentage of power output relevant to the cost and time it takes to build new power plants?

    [b]Solar panels are currently expensive and toxic and polluting to produce.

    But cheaper than nuclear. I am not sure how you would do a comparative measure of the pollution.

    Wind turbines are made by a few specialists and would requ ...[text shortened]... .
    I am sorry, but most of your post was rambling instead of actually backing up this claim.[/b]
    I'm uncertain on occasions we are even talking the same language...

    Both require huge grid level energy storage...
    But not initially.


    WTF????

    Solar and wind are intermittent.

    Making a large proportion to virtually all of our power from solar/wind requires
    having grid storage large enough to smooth out the supply. [along with other
    load balancing measures].

    As we are talking about what power sources we would generate all/most of our
    electricity with this is fundamentally important.

    Yes, you don't need such storage 'initially' ie now... but the more intermittent power
    sources you have the more important it becomes. Current renewable cost figures [per unit
    energy generated] do not include the costs of grid storage that will become more and
    more necessary the more intermittent sources we use.

    Given that it's absolutely relevant that when talking about the costs of renewables that
    we include the costs of the grid storage.

    So I really don't know what you think you are talking about.

    How is the current percentage of power output relevant to the cost and time it takes to build
    new power plants?


    The relevance is to highlight how pathetically small the amount of renewable energy we generate is
    and how massive the mountain is to climb despite all we have spent and all the resources and land area
    given over to it so far.

    And the fact that energy use is set to massively increase over the next century is relevant because
    while all the talk I about how do we generate the same amount we do now, but without CO2 emissions,
    the problem is that we need to generate WAY MORE than we do now. That worldwide percentage of
    renewable energy is SHRINKING. Not growing.

    Both take up HUGE areas of land, requiring planning permission and local acceptance.
    Not true for solar. There is plenty of roof space and car parks just waiting for it.


    Oh good grief... Yes and those roofs are all ideally located for efficient solar panel placement.
    Cost is based on efficiency, many/most roofs are not located in good places to build solar panels,
    so you end up needing way more of them than you would if placed in optimum locations which
    increases the cost and pollution and materiel requirement and solar panels loose efficiency if not
    cleaned... how often do you reckon people will be out cleaning and inspecting the solar panels on
    their roofs...

    So no, it's absolutely true.



    France has the cheapest energy in Europe, and it's almost all Nuclear. It's reliable and green, and takes up very little
    space.

    It's thus hard to argue that Nuclear power is not cost effective. The high estimates on cost typically come
    from people who require nonsensical sci-fi solutions to nuclear waste storage.
  14. 30 Jun '14 11:34 / 5 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    How is the current percentage of power output relevant to the cost and time it takes to build new power plants?

    [b]Solar panels are currently expensive and toxic and polluting to produce.

    But cheaper than nuclear. I am not sure how you would do a comparative measure of the pollution.

    Wind turbines are made by a few specialists and would requ ...[text shortened]... .
    I am sorry, but most of your post was rambling instead of actually backing up this claim.[/b]
    I have to say I am with you on this one -his post seems to be riddled with flaws. He said "The UK has been investing heavily in wind generation for decades" well, actually I live in the UK and I have been given the clear impression the UK politicians have, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, been dragging the heels on renewable for many decades and ONLY investing the absolute MINIMUM amount of in renewables including wind just purely for the sake of satisfying a few gullible voters that they are doing enough -which they are NOT. Last time I heard, they have already committed themselves to an increases in fossil fuel power for the foreseeable future, NOT a decrease. And also committed to a pathetic meaningless token gesture of renewables for the foreseeable future. In short, they don't care about our future and will not invest much in it. As usual, their attitude is 'businesses as usually' which, for them, unofficially means 'do nothing'.
  15. 30 Jun '14 12:14
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    WTF????

    Solar and wind are intermittent.
    Yes, but we are not going to immediately scrap all our hydroelectric, nuclear, or even fossil fuel plants. For the first 10 years at least, we should have power plants capable of taking up the slack when wind and solar do not provide 100% of the energy needed.

    The relevance is to highlight how pathetically small the amount of renewable energy we generate is and how massive the mountain is to climb despite all we have spent and all the resources and land area given over to it so far.
    The mountain remains the same size, regardless of how much is currently produced by wind and solar. The mountain doesn't get smaller when using nuclear.
    I fail to see how the proportion of electricity currently generated by solar and wind is in any way relevant to which power source should be used in the future.

    And the fact that energy use is set to massively increase over the next century is relevant because while all the talk I about how do we generate the same amount we do now, but without CO2 emissions, the problem is that we need to generate WAY MORE than we do now. That worldwide percentage of renewable energy is SHRINKING. Not growing.
    But how is this relevant to the question of which technology should be used?

    Oh good grief... Yes and those roofs are all ideally located for efficient solar panel placement.
    No, but there is no shortage of suitable roofs.

    It's thus hard to argue that Nuclear power is not cost effective. The high estimates on cost typically come from people who require nonsensical sci-fi solutions to nuclear waste storage.
    France has not yet paid for the nuclear waste storage has it?
    But much more importantly, you are making the error of comparing the historical cost of nuclear with the historical cost of solar, which we both know is nonsensical.
    Show me a European country that gets most of its power from solar and wind installed post 2013 and I will show you a country that has cheaper power than France.