This Single Sunscreen Ingredient Could Greatly Improve Solar Panels

This Single Sunscreen Ingredient Could Greatly Improve Solar Panels
User Avatar
1 year ago

As the summer rolls around, many Americans are reaching for the suntan lotion as they prepare to spend heaps of time outside at baseball games, parks, and at the pool. Sunblock has zinc oxide, an ingredient that’s also used in other products to treat rashes, skin irritation, chapped skin, and burns. Another useful component is that it can be a semiconductor that generates solar electricity.

Zinc oxide is a handy substance that’s used in a wide variety of things such as rubber, lubricants, paint, adhesives, even food. It’s used in a lot of objects because it’s extremely inexpensive and easy to work with. A common misconception of the ingredient is that it gives lotions and protective sunglasses the ability to block or reflect ultraviolet radiation. Actually, organic sunscreens absorb that UV radiation and turns it into disposable heat.

This allowed physicists at Concordia University in Montreal to create a semiconductor out of zinc oxide. Their report unveils that this substance forms nanorods that can transport electricity, but it needs to be scattered in a specific pattern to do that. That used to be expensive to achieve, but that is no longer that case.

By doing this method, they would be able to create photonic crystals that have the ability to capture any form of light, or it can detect forms of gas in the area. What makes that important is it can improve solar panels by limiting temperature increase. Marlene Cimons of Popular Science explains how it can also create hydrogen fuel cells.

Since zinc oxide absorbs energy from sunlight, putting nanorods in water causes the absorbed energy from the sun to break the bond between the oxygen and hydrogen atoms in water molecules, generating hydrogen gas.

Does this mean we can just add sunscreen to solar panels to increase their efficiency? Probably not, but it isn’t the most ridiculous thing to consider. It actually depends on what sunscreen is applied on the panel. If it’s the white substance, that means it’s likely inorganic and will simply reflect the sunlight. That would end up making the solar panels useless let alone anywhere near efficient.

When it comes to protection and efficiency, the glass surrounding the solar panels usually absorb the radiation anyway. It essentially is a sunscreen by itself, so it renders any application of lotion useless on the panels. Another great way to keep those solar panels cool is to keep enough space between the roof and the panel itself to create a draft, which is what a California startup is focusing on in their version of the solar roof.

RecircNewsScientists Discover Thriving Coral Reefs Under Oceanic Volcanoes

Researchers from marine life advocates Oceana have discovered a surprising new world under the sea near Sicily.

By Aimee Lutkin
3 days ago
RecircNewsSweden Is On Track To Reach Its Green Energy Goals A Decade Early

Sweden's aggressive target of generating over 40 terawatt-hours of renewable energy by 2030 could be reached nearly a decade early. A massive amount of wind power projects could hit a snag in market value with subsidies, but SWEA could push to close those up by the end of the year.

By Brian Spaen
4 days ago
RecircNewsStarbucks Announces Plan To Ban Straws From All Stores

Starbucks is ramping up its sustainability efforts with a plan to eradicate the use of plastic straws in its assembly line.

By Aimee Lutkin
5 days ago
RecircNewsThis Vegan Ice Cream Is Made Out Of Avocados

Cado is the world's first ice cream created with a creamy avocado base. There's no dairy or nuts added, no artificial ingredients come along with the various flavors they offer, and the product is completely organic.

By Brian Spaen
1 week ago
Stay Green
Sign up for our newsletter