Solar energy power has a been a big topic for many years now. Many of us learned about it in elementary school and have seen how far this reliable and renewable energy source has come and how many successes it has made today (take a look at UCF’s campus). The only downside solar energy has is its efficiency during inclement weather (Florida has a lot of rainy days). Scientists in China are in the process of using rain to generate solar power. The team of scientists, who are from Ocean University in China in Qingdao, have developed a process featuring sheets of graphene to make this possible.
The scientists believe that rain water, which contains salts that split up into both positive and negative ions, can generate electricity when the graphene sheets are used to separate the ions (the positive ions generate the electricity). They have conducted simulation tests to see if their hypothesis is on the right path. In the simulation, they used lightly salted water to simulate rain. From this test, they were able to generate hundreds of microvolts as well as a 6.53 percent solar-to-electric conversion efficiency of energy. This is a very promising result.
For the simulation, the scientists used a solar panel that they customized themselves. They put graphene over a thin solar cell. These two layers were then placed on a thin oxide and plastic sheet. This created a solar cell that can produce solar power with both sunlight and rain. Currently, the scientists are working on advancing the technology so that it can adjust and adapt to the many ions that are found in real rain. The low concentrations these ions usually come in in real rain is also a factor that the team is considering.