In producing power through photovoltaic cells, the surface area of the cells is a very significant factor. Researchers have been trying to trim down the surface area of these cells and make them more efficient in terms of size.
SolenSphere is a venture which was launched by two students of Renewable Energy Engineering at Oregon Tech, Corbyn Jahn and Adam Burwell. The company has been able to reduce the surface area needed by photovoltaic cells by a factor of 1000! It claims that it has created a new solar concentrator which can capture 72% of the solar energy falling on it.
The device’s efficiency is further bolstered by the fact that it is also able to make use of the thermal energy which is produced within itself. Conventionally, such internal thermal energy goes to waste.
The solar concentrator that has made it all possible is based on a Cassegrain reflector design. It concentrates the sunlight with the help of two reflectors and once the beam has been focused enough, it is directed onto a PV cell.
SolenSphere is now trying to commercialize their patented product. The photovoltaic cells alone, it claims, have a 40% efficiency when producing electricity. Coupled with the additional input from the internally captured thermal energy, the overall efficiency is pegged at 72%.