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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Solar Magnets: How do they Work?

Time for a short post on a new breakthrough to brighten up your Saturday morning: Today I'm talking about magnets!

Most modern solar power systems use sunlight to trigger electrical reactions within semiconductors, also known as a photovoltaic reaction, which in turn produces electricity. These systems are often cost-heavy as many of the materials require high-precision manufacturing with semi-rare minerals such as Cadmium Telluride and Copper Indium alloys. These drive up the costs of solar panels to hundreds of dollars per square meter, or upwards of $5-10,000 for a household installation. These are prohibitive costs to investors, as a gallon of gas still costs about $3.75, and the same goes for the equivalent amount of natural gas. However, a recent breakthrough in physics is pointing researchers towards a new form of energy that can be harnessed from the sun: Magnetism.
I'm not saying we use magnets to harness the sun, and as the oft-quoted Insane Clown Posse cavalierly states in one of their songs, many people don't understand how magnets work, but all you need to know is that when sunlight hits the Earth's surface, it produces a weak magnetic field, much like the pull of a weak magnet thats meant for your kitchen refrigerator. For years, scientists have ignored the magnetic field within sunlight for it was too weak. However, recently, a team of physicists have discovered that focusing the sunlight to 10 million times its normal strength produces a massive amount of energy in the magnetic field that can be turned into electricity. It seems like a tall order, but it can be accomplished using inexpensive glass lenses and fiber optic wires that can focus light into intense beams of energy. What this means for the future is that solar power plants no longer need massive fields of blue panels, but may only need a bunch of lenses focusing light into high-capacity fiber optic cables to be harnessed as energy using magnetism. Its complicated, very scientific, but may herald an era of cheap solar power in the decades to come.

12 comments:

mac-and-me said...

interesting concept

ds said...

Solar power is the best energy source and it would be great if this invention could help it to spread more.

Grafted said...

That's awesome

Bayyy said...

Interesting.

Jellybro said...

freaking magnets, how do they work?

Danny Murphy said...

Interesting read mate. Is it really possible?

Tibble said...

This is relvent to my intrests!

KillerKun said...

I lol'd hard at the title xD

-DO- said...

good to know, thx!

Piets said...

FREAKING MIRACLES!

Insider33 said...

It's a good idea until we have a cloudy day or something.

Patres said...

I always wondered why nobody thought of lenses focusing sunlight in order to create energy somehow. Glad they're working on it

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