Eco-friendly Alternative Developed for Solar Panels

Posted On November 19, 2020     

Scientists in Korea have created a new environment-friendly alternative, the ZTO buffer that can prevail over the usage of toxic materials as buffers in solar panels.

Solar power is considered an eco-friendly alternative to non-renewable and conventional source of energy. Nevertheless, current solar panels necessitate the utilization of toxic materials as buffers, which is not sustainable. At the Incheon National University, a scientist’s team in Korea has developed a new eco-friendly substitute, named as ZTO buffer, which can overcome this restraint. The new development will make solar panels more sustainable.

Solar panels consist of photovoltaic cells, where materials exposed to light produce an electric current. Latest thin-film solar cells are made up of sub-micrometer or micrometer-thick layers of photovoltaic material, allowing them to be incorporated into lightweight, flexible panels for use in a range of substrates.

However, this process has some boundaries. Most thin-film solar cells comprise expensive and toxic elements, which may hamper the extension of solar cell applications. Scientists were continually working on producing solar cells through naturally plentiful, eco-friendly materials, which are easy to dig out and economical to manufacture.

The scientists worked with eco-friendly cells made up of kesterite, a natural mineral that acts as a photon absorber. Majorly kesterite cells make use of a buffer layer prepared by cadmium sulfide (CdS) to improve their performance. Regardless of their efficiency, the pollution-related to making these buffers and the cadmium toxicity are not striking traits in an eco-friendly solar cell. To tackle this issue, the researchers explored a potential alternative, called the “ZTO buffer.” To improve the solar cell's efficiency, the team united the energy levels of the electrons between the buffer layer (ZTO) and the absorber layer (kesterite). This permitted for a better flow of electrons between the two layers, raising the cell’s voltage and on the whole performance, with a power conversion efficiency of 11.22 percent. The current kesterite cells that use CdS buffers show a maximum efficiency of 12.6 percent, which means the proposed cell showed high efficiency. This technique is the first to give in such a high performance using exclusively abundant eco-friendly and inexpensive materials.

The significance of this research will only nurture with the expected boost in the share of renewable energy in the subsequent few decades. As the solar panels' demand grows, it is particularly important to source its components in the most eco-friendly and cheapest way possible.
There are several potential applications of these findings. For instance, Eco-friendly thin-film solar cells can be installed on the roofs and walls of houses and buildings to fabricate electricity near us. They could also be deployed in ground vehicles (such as cars, buses, and trucks )and even in marine transportations (boats and long-range ships) to support electric power partly.

Related Report:

Global Solar Vehicles Market Report

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