How local scientists are revolutionising use of solar energy

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A greener future could be on the cards for Abu Dhabi as a team of capital scientists has developed a more powerful way of capturing solar energy.

In a collaborative project with US-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), researchers from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology came up with a high performance solar absorber that is more efficient and cost effective compared to current methods of generating solar thermal power.

In contrast to photovoltaic cell methods of collecting the sun’s energy, solar thermal
power generates heat and steam for electricity production. With this in mind, the research features silver nanoparticles, which are able to absorb nearly 100 percent of ultraviolet rays and wavelengths on the visible light spectrum, to produce power with uses including cooling and heating systems, as well as desalination.

“The technology developed through this collaborative research effort demonstrates our commitment to generating innovations that will enable the UAE to achieve its diversified energy goals through sustainable solutions specifically targeted at advancing the energy sector,” explained Dr Steve Griffiths, interim executive vice president for research at Khalifa University of Science and Technology, a Masdar Institute partner university.

Dr Gang Chen, head of MIT’s Mechanical Engineering department, added that the uses for the UAE are particularly relevant when it comes to water production: “The technology we have demonstrated is particularly attractive for hot-arid regions, such as Abu Dhabi, with potential applications in waste water treatment, seawater desalination and power generation.”

With the Gulf’s capacity to produce solar energy at 400 times the regional demand, the new technology could help further the UAE’s aims to generate 44 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050.

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