Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solar Energy Conversion Offers A Solution To Help Mitigate Global Warming

Date:
March 12, 2007
Source:
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Summary:
Solar energy has the power to reduce greenhouse gases and provide increased energy efficiency, says a scientist at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. Last month, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations released a report confirming global warming is upon us and attributing the growing threat to the man-made burning of fossil fuels.

The dotted white line shows a nanodot inclusion in the crystalline structure of the thermoelectric material Ag0.86Pb18SbTe20, seen in high resolution transmission electron microscopy. Controlling nanoscale inclusions like this one will enable the next-generation of thermoelectric materials with significantly higher efficiency for converting the sun’s heat to electricity. The inclusion is about 10 nm in diameter.
Credit: M. Kanatzidis

Solar energy has the power to reduce greenhouse gases and provide increased energy efficiency, says a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, in a report published in the March issue of Physics Today.

Currently, between 80 percent and 85 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels. However, fossil fuel resources are of finite extent and are distributed unevenly beneath Earth's surface. When fossil fuel is turned into useful energy through combustion, it often produces environmental pollutants that are harmful to human health and greenhouse gases that threaten the global climate. In contrast, solar resources are widely available and have a benign effect on the environment and climate, making it an appealing alternative energy source.

“Sunlight is not only the most plentiful energy resource on earth, it is also one of the most versatile, converting readily to electricity, fuel and heat,” said Crabtree. “The challenge is to raise its conversion efficiency by factors of five or ten. That requires understanding the fundamental conversion phenomena at the nanoscale. We are just scratching the surface of this rich research field.”

Argonne carries out forefront basic research on all three solar conversion routes. The laboratory is creating next-generation nanostructured solar cells using sophisticated atomic layer deposition techniques that replace expensive silicon with inexpensive titanium dioxide and chemical dyes. Its artificial photosynthesis program imitates nature using simple chemical components to convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide directly into fuels like hydrogen, methane and ethanol. Its program on thermoelectric materials takes heat from the sun and converts it directly to electricity.

The Physics Today article is based on the conclusions contained in the report of the Basic Energy Sciences Workshop on Solar Energy Utilization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Crabtree and Lewis served as co-chairs of the workshop and principal editors of the report. The key conclusions of the report identified opportunities for higher solar energy efficiencies in the areas of:

  • Electricity – important research developments lie in the development of new, less expensive materials for solar cells, including organics, thin films, dyes and shuttle ions, and in understanding the dynamics of charge transfer across nanostructured interfaces.
  • Fuel – solar photons can be converted into chemical fuel more resourcefully by breeding or genetically engineering designer plants, connecting natural photosynthetic pathways in novel configurations and using artificial bio-inspired nanoscale systems.
  • Heat – controlling the size, density and distribution of nanodot inclusions during bulk synthesis could enhance thermoelectric performance and achieve more reliable and inexpensive electricity production from the sun's heat.

Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations released a report confirming global warming is upon us and attributing the growing threat to the man-made burning of fossil fuels.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "Solar Energy Conversion Offers A Solution To Help Mitigate Global Warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075611.htm>.
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. (2007, March 12). Solar Energy Conversion Offers A Solution To Help Mitigate Global Warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075611.htm
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "Solar Energy Conversion Offers A Solution To Help Mitigate Global Warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075611.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins