I like to cover breaking new technology here, and this definitely falls in that category.
Researchers at Notre Dame have a created a solar paint that would actually generate electricity. It’s made from titanium dioxide, which is also found in sunscreen. Efficiency is around 1% right now, which is not great compared to the 15%-20% efficiency of mass production solar panels now. But as with anything related to science, they have a starting point and will improve it from here.
The paint can be tinted to make any color and applied to any surface that you would apply paint to. The idea of solar paint got me thinking about some possibilities for generating power in unexpected places:
- Of course flat roof surfaces could be painted with this material to simultaneously reflect heat and generate power.
- The sides of buildings could be painted to produce electricity.
- Roadways and bridges could now generate power.
- Stadium roofs seem perfect for this application.
- Every sunny side of homes could be painted with this material.
Of course there are some questions about how it would work. Generally solar wattage varies on surface area, so the larger the area the more wattage. How would you regulate the power that came off a wall? What voltage would it produce? This is important for system design purposes.
Still, it’s a cool technology and could lead to big things in the future. How would you use solar paint?