Bringing Sunlight Inside
Reported May 2007
TROY, N.Y., (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) – Solar energy technology is advancing daily. Now, a new, high-tech system is working to efficiently harness the power of the sun and drastically reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions.
Today, there are more than 76 million residential buildings and nearly 5 million commercial buildings in the United States. Combined, they use two-thirds of all electricity consumed in the United States and produce 35 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.
Anna Dyson, an architectural scientist from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, is leading the way to make solar energy a real alternative to pollution-emitting fossil fuels. Her system contains rows of thin lenses that track the sun's movement. Sunlight floods each lens and is focused onto a postage-stamp sized, high-tech solar cell. Dyson says, "Really, what we want to do is be capturing and transferring that energy for usable means."
Conventional solar systems are about 14 percent efficient. This system has a combined heat and power efficiency of nearly 80 percent. "What they're doing is very efficiently capturing and transferring that light into electricity and the solar heat into hot water," Dyson explains.
"We basically have a system that can sense where the sun is at any time, and then the modules will basically be facing directly perpendicular to the incoming sun rays," she says. The lenses will be nestled between window panes and all of the pieces will be made of glass.
Michael Jensen, Ph.D., a mechanical engineer from Rensselaer polytechnic institute says reducing dependency on fossil fuels is critical. Dr. Jensen explains, "We use fewer fossil fuels, then we are going to put less CO2 into the atmosphere. We are going to decrease the effects on global warming."
This system will also lower the lighting needs of buildings, as it will provide usable light inside. It could supply as much as 50 percent of the energy needed for a building to operate. The system is set to be installed in the Center for Excellence and Environmental Energy Systems in Syracuse, New York, in 2008, and in the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City by 2009.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Amber M. Cleveland, Media Relations Specialist
Look Up! A Blue Moon In May
This Month's TV Reports
You've heard the expression and now on May 31st you can see a real blue moon.
Watching animated characters come alive is amazing to watch, but new technology may make it impossible to tell animated from real.
Math In The Movies
Get a behind-the-scenes look at how high school math helps animated movies come to life.
The Right Mix Of Trees
We've got a simple way for you to do your part in the fight against global warming. It may be as simple as planting a tree -- and we'll tell you how to get them for free!
Faster Flu Test
Every year, one in five Americans will get the flu. Antibiotics won't help fight it. Now a quick test can help doctors make a fast diagnosis and stop prescribing the wrong drugs.
Saving Electricity: Saving $
It costs a lot of money to light up an office. Now, an easy solution makes the most of those sunny days at work.
Bringing Sunlight Inside
A new, high-tech system that can efficiently harness the power of the sun.
Diabetes affects over 20-million Americans. It can cause blindness. Now a new treatment is helping save sight.
What Causes Motion Sickness?
Feeling dizzy, blurry vision, upset stomach? It's called motion sickness, and now researchers are moving in on what causes it.
Breakthrough In Brakes
Ceramic brakes will soon be on a car near you -- saving you money and maintenance.
What's In Our Air?
Do clean-air laws impact the air we breathe? Satellites prove what a difference a decade makes.
Searching For Planets
Outer space is a big place, and astronomers need your help to search the universe for planets.