In a big breakthrough, researchers from Tulane University have developed a new type of hybrid solar energy converter. This innovative device uses solar energy to create both electricity and steam, with high efficiency and low cost.
Typically solar energy is collected using photovoltaics. There are Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems as well that use heat instead of light to generate electricity. Usually, these methods are separately used.
There have been hybrid devices, but so far these resulted in lower efficiency or higher cost.
Now, researchers have developed a hybrid solar energy converter that generates both electricity and steam. New hybrid solar energy converter mixes the best of both worlds. Best part is, the device manages to harvest a large amount of energy and has low cost involved.
This device makes the best use of a wider spectrum of solar energy
The hybrid device utilizes an approach that captures wider spectrum of sunlight. The device produces electricity from high efficiency multi-junction solar cell. These solar cells redirect infrared rays of sunlight to a thermal receiver, which converts those rays to thermal energy.
The overall collection efficiency is 85.1 %. Steam captured can be heated to 248 degrees C (478 degrees F), which is much higher than most of thermal collectors.