The Light Catcher is a cool concept that combines an AA or AAA battery profile with integrated miniature solar panels. Imagine placing your dead batteries on a sunny window sill for a few hours to recharge. Much like wind-up batteries, the solar concept makes disposable batteries a thing of the past.
Pictured here, renderings of the Light Catcher batteries show a clear exterior that lets light penetrate to the internal solar panels at the core. Besides just typical battery functionality, they also provide a 3.5mm jack for powering compatible devices on the go.
Imagine windows on office buildings that are constantly generating electrical power from the same sunlight that passes through them. This concept was recently proven by New Energy Technologies when they demonstrated that a one-foot square piece of clear glass can power a miniature helicopter. The transparent solar panel generated electricity from a beam of artificial light.
New Energy Technologies is not the only company to work on electricity-generating glass. Like other products, SolarWindow uses an environmentally friendly spray-on film to convert glass into a clear solar panel. In September 2010 the company demonstrated the same technology on a smaller 4 x 4 inch piece of glass.
$115 million to build 50 acres of sustainable, productive greenhouses growing food in the middle of the Sahara Desert? According to Charlie Paton, Michael Pawlyn, and Bill Watts of the Sahara Forest Project, this is just the tip of the iceberg. As currently envisioned, these technologies could also produce electric power for cities in Africa and Europe, renewable bio-fuel, and ample fresh water in the process.
The concept combines multiple already-proven technologies into one system to transform the desert into a productive landscape. Concentrated solar power (CSP) focuses the sun's rays with mirrors to heat water into steam and spin turbines to generate power. Seawater greenhouses convert ocean water to fresh water using condensation, providing fresh water and nutrients for crop growth and lowering the temperature inside.
Motion-activated lamps have become the norm on many exteriors of energy-saving suburban homes. Whether on the driveway, side yard, or on the back deck, these lamps provide security from strangers lurking in the dark. In addition, they save energy since they are only used when a person is in the vicinity.
Improvements on this design have included solar lamps that require no external power and charge during the day. Now a further improvement has been made. The solar wedge lamp combines sleek industrial design with ultra-efficient LED lamps and requires no wiring to install.
Envision Solar has developed the first-generation Solar Grove for use in parking lots. This "grove" of Solar Trees not only generates power, it transforms otherwise barren parking lots into modern-looking, shaded areas. Everyone knows how much time and gas it takes to cool down
your car when it's been sitting in the sun all day. Not only do the Kyocera-manufactured solar panels keep the sun off of cars parked underneath, they prevent the asphalt from absorbing and later releasing wasted heat energy. All this while generating enough electricity to pay for the investment
Get your hands behind the controller of the latest H2Go fuel-cell electric vehicle. The solar panel generates electricity to recharge the controller and electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen at the refueling station. With a little sunlight and water, this car has a range of five minutes between fill-ups.
The manufacturer, Corgi International, won the 2008 ToyAward at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. The technology for this product and others is made by Singapore's Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies. Other hydrogen gadgets they have powered include
The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE will be presenting a door-sized prototype solar module at Tokyo's Nanotech 2008 conference. The new semi-transparent technology features nanoparticles and organic dye which are used to create colors, images, or text and generate electricity.
Potential applications include decorative building facades or placement in windows, where they also function as window shades, reducing glare.