Adding a little spice is not only good for your health or for making your recipes more delicious: it might be the way to make clean, renewable solar energy even better. A team of Chinese researchers have found that capsaicin, the active component that makes chili peppers hot, can make solar panels absorb the sun’s energy more efficiently. With these exciting findings, researchers hope to continue to improve solar panels and solar energy systems, and provide more energy from a natural and sustainable source, for less money.
How Solar Panels Work
Solar panels, which are made up of solar cells linked together, work by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, which generates a flow of electricity. These cells have been predominantly made of silicone for years, but now perovskite solar cells have been slowly overtaking them: not only are perovskite solar cells cheaper and easier to make than silicon solar cells, but they also absorb sunlight better.
While perovskite cells have many advantages, there have also been some issues with them surrounding converting sunlight into electricity. To deal with these issues, Qinye Bao, the study’s senior author and an electrical engineer at East China Normal University, began looking for alternative, inexpensive substances to add to improve the cells’ performance. “Considering the electric, chemical, optical, and stable properties of capsaicin, we preliminarily found that it would be a promising candidate,” says Bao in a statement.
How Capsaicin Helps Produce More Solar Energy
To test their theory on adding capsaicin, researchers added it to the perovskite solar cells, and then exposed them to artificial light imitating sunlight, and measured the electricity pass through. The chemical compound increased the solar cells’ efficiency, having a power conversion of 21.88% compared to 19.1% for cells not treated with the capsaicin. Not only that, but it also made the solar cells more stable, allowing them to retain more than 90% of their efficiency after 800 hours, and reducing energy leaks due to heat.
In addition, according to Tsutomu Miyasaka of the University of Yokohama, there are also other natural compounds currently being tested to check if they have boosting effects similar to capsaicin. So don’t be surprised if you soon read about some other everyday spice being added to solar panels in the near future!
All of these findings mean that capsaicin could be a great alternative way to increase solar panel efficiency and give a boost to the solar industry. This natural, inexpensive, and sustainable solution could make solar panels more accessible and cheaper in the very near future.
If you are interested in learning more about solar energy systems or in finding affordable and efficient solar panels, Go Solar Energy can help. We will make the long process of researching all the different types of solar panels, their efficiency, and the warranties offered by different companies much easier for you – just give us a few minutes and we will compare everything for you. We’ll set you up with a local agent who will go over all available plans to help you find the solar energy system that best suits your needs and finances. To get started, enter your zip code on our homepage, or to speak directly to one of our agents call (888) 290-3112.