Technology Could Turn Windows and Walls into Solar Cells

Aug. 27, 2010
Norwegian company develops spray-on film that can be applied to any surface.

Imagine turning the windows of your house into more than just a place to see the outside yard, but instead into a solar power collector. Too farfetched? Not according to EnSol, a Norwegian company which has patented a power generating spray-on film that can be applied on any surface, be it exterior walls, a fence, and or even windows.

EnSols film will slightly tint the window and catch between 8-10% of the light it lets through. If one side of a house receives an inordinate amount, a user could apply a thicker coating to the surface, reducing the amount of light coming in.

The company is hoping that in the coming years it will be able to increase the quality of the films efficiency to as high as 20% of the energy it absorbs, which would be an unusually high ratio compared to other technologies.

EnSol even suggested that it is developing a thicker solution to coat exterior walls or be used in the form of clip-together solar roof tiles, which would reduce the need to install unwieldy solar panels on rooftops, particularly in industrial settings.

The film technology uses metal nanoparticles embedded in a transparent composite matrix. Ensol, which collaborated with the UKs University of Leicesters Department of Physics and Astronomy, estimates the film may be ready to hit the market as soon as 2016.

The coating would be built into the windows or other materials as part of the manufacturing process, said Chris Binns, professor of nanotechnology at the University of Leicester. It could even be used on the roofs of cars to charge up batteries, although powering the vehicles themselves would probably be pushing it.

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