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John Hill
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Hey guys I was reading this article in my Sierra club magazine and thought I should share it.

http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201401/innovate-super-solar.aspx

I think #4 is really neat well all of them are just as interesting and innovative.

These got me thinking though. What do you guys think about incorporating fiber optics into solar cells? I don't know if there are any wavelength losses in fiber optics but instead of moving parts to track the sun would it be possible to use fiber optics to reroute the suns rays around an object say onto the other side of the roof/wall or the other side of a solar array. Lights goes in but cant come out?

Oh just found this...
http://news.discovery.com/tech/solar-power-cells-underground.htm

Thoughts?

(Solar Generator Box)?
 
David Livingston
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They can be twice as efficient but if they cost over twice as much I suspect it will be a none starter .
Its basic economics. I think there are lots of improvements yet to be made both in cost and in efficency, soon I hope solar panels will come as standard on housing even replacing conventional tiles on your roof . If fact I dont see why they are not made obligitory on new houses . Think about it . You already have electricians , roofers, scaffolding on site paid for anyway what would be the extra cost compared to putting a system on later? It would soon pay for itself .

David
 
John Hill
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because we wouldn't be as dependent on someone else for our power. I agree it will change and most all governments have planned for and are currently building new grids for alternative energies but for it to be so easily incorporated into homes a lot will have to change and those changes will take time. The biggest change would be the peoples way of thinking and how we utilize socioeconomics to manage our progression as a human race and so called business. The balance of what we use and what we have is more in favor of fossil fuels for now and mostly in favor of big business. With that said, once we find a stable way to produce and a direction of its market so that it is a gradual change we could then begin to make it easier to incorporate it into homes. I agree with you that it should be a standard building practice that we can incorporate it into a trade skills job. But I also think it would be neat to be able to purchase a solar generator box.

The cost of everything alternative renewable will remain high because if it was to be lowered than many could start manufacturing their own and big business would lose big. Its frustrating but our whole way of thinking and living would have to change. I envision a world without greed and a more balanced social structure and hierarchy. But for that to work we need to change our own way of thinking...

Take a moment right now and ask yourself do you feel a slight bit of jealousy when someone does better or has more than you? (perhaps this should be a new thread eh?) the hunger to feed may never end unless we all learn self control.

peace.

J

 
David Livingston
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Prices for current technology are still decreacing so I have hope that more and more folks will make their own electricity . Espicially when one looks at developments in Garmany the electric energy system may one day be dominated by consumer/producers . I was looking at a system at about 1000€ http://www.mysolarshop.co.uk/product_info.php?currency=EUR&products_id=472

mmmm lots to think about

David
 
John Hill
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Hey David do you have any links to Germans developments and how the implement these ideas into their society?

thats one thing we all need to do is educate.....
 
David Livingston
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You might find this of interest
http://mobile.euobserver.com/regions/121957

David
 
John Hill
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Thats very interesting. I think its a great idea. I'd like to watch how this unfolds.

Id like to hear more about whats going to take the place of the Brown Coal burning plant. With 2.5 million voters and €1 billion cost of the grid plus its energy generators I could see this going places.

 
David Livingston
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I think its still early days with people exploring possibilities . I have been looking into solar energy while watching the price drop and interestingly I have been told France is thinking about a swap policy for every unit you generate one comes off your bill and no standing charge . This would mean you could set up a system that would mean no storage problems for you and you have a back up in that you are attached to the grid . Its an interesting and I think very economical idea .
Obviously not everyone will be able to generate electricity but if enough people do I think it will make a big difference. France has the highest percentage of Neuclear Power in the world by far and closing down one of those due to solar being more economical would really make my day .

David
 
John Hill
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David Livingston wrote: I was looking at a system at about 1000€ http://www.mysolarshop.co.uk/product_info.php?currency=EUR&products_id=472


I'm not sure what the costs of systems are I have not looked into many of them yet. That seems like a decent deal but it doesn't show any specs. I'd think you would want to view its efficiency rating and reviews of the invert.

I think its about 1usd/watt plus the inverter here. I currently use about 300kw a month. So I was looking into getting a 5kw system....?
 
C. Letellier
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John Hill wrote:
David Livingston wrote: I was looking at a system at about 1000€ http://www.mysolarshop.co.uk/product_info.php?currency=EUR&products_id=472


I'm not sure what the costs of systems are I have not looked into many of them yet. That seems like a decent deal but it doesn't show any specs. I'd think you would want to view its efficiency rating and reviews of the invert.

I think its about 1usd/watt plus the inverter here. I currently use about 300kw a month. So I was looking into getting a 5kw system....?


System size is a function of sun hours for a given area and type of cell so even making good guesses on system size without knowing those is practically impossible. Sun hours changes by because of changes in longitude and latitude. But it also changes by weather, elevation and local obstacles like buildings, tree, mountains or cliffs.

If you are going purely grid tie in the US you want a system that produces just slightly under or slightly over your monthly use. The reason is that by law they have to buy your use electricity back at your retail power rate. But once you are over that monthly use then they are paying the cheapest of wholesale power rates meaning you are getting less than 2 cents per kilowatt hour for it. Since you do not want to be selling power for next to nothing it is stupid cost wise to put in panels that exceed your needs because the ones that are over your needs will never reach pay back. Also some other things to remember. 1. You will still have a power bill even if you are selling back electricity equal to your needs. The reason is they have a certain stranded cost in maintaining the lines and they have to recover those from you for your share. For city users of power these are small but for rural users these can be fairly large. So learn this up front before putting a system in as to how this will be calculated. 2. There are higher up front costs you are not mentioning. You will need a bidirectional meter and an automatic cut out so if line voltage fails your grid can't back feed the line and kill linemen or others. In some cases they require a double cut out for safety. So expect your up front costs to be roughly $2000 higher than just solar cells and an inverter. In some areas the power company is eating these expenses but in most areas it is up to the customer to meet them not the power company. And they may also put limits on the types of cut out switches used on their lines.

As for fiber optics feeding solar cells for various reasons I don't expect that one to happen. Mostly added cost and complexity for low gains. If it does happen it will be to concentrate lots of light on a small cell. High efficiency cells are extremely expensive to produce but they will produce more power with more light if you can simply keep them cool enough. So say a normal cell is 10% and a high is 30% if you can increase the amount of light it gets you can greatly increase power. Problem is now you need an active cooling system to keep heat from destroying it. Say you mount in on a thermionic module to gather more power and then run a water based cooling system beyond that. Now you have hot water that you may be able to generate a little more power with. Suddenly your efficiency can approach 50% or 60%. But it happens at really high cost currently. So far the math doesn't work out for any system I have seen for this. But I do think I know how to make it work.

 
John Hill
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wow C we thank you for the reply I am still learning and trying to piece things together using google and forums. You should make an informative website .

If you know how it works and need help I can offer you my man power and ideas although WY is a bit far from OH lol I wish you the best in it. Sometimes colleges are a great place to start. Be safe.

I have a brilliant idea too but have not figured out the safest way to start...
 
C. Letellier
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My answer for solar in a more viable form is in section Y on page 51. This was written a year ago for different reasons.



Filename: challenge.pdf
File size: 3 megabytes
 
John Hill
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Interesting...but from what I had time to read I'm not sure I can agree with the idea. I work in road construction and building a glass road is just not feasible. You mentioned fiber optics being expensive the amount of energy, new technology and new equipment needed to produce a road of glass would be far more expensive in so many ways. Not to mention the thickness of glass needed to prevent cracking or what if someone wrecks on it? If you are trying to incorporate current solar technology into everyday use I would think placing solar panels over train tracks would be more feasible. However I like the idea of utilizing all sources of E to produce E. The cost of the technology now is still far to high to incorporate it into everyday products imo.

I still think fiber optics with some new technology and a box may work. No heat issues and most light absorbed can be utilized. Which leads me to the questions how or what role does light absorption play in solar technology. What are all the knowns and their functions and what are some possible unknowns of current solar technology.

edit: land moves and shifts and if the glass road were to crack how would you repair it?
 
John Hill
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David Livingston wrote:I think its still early days with people exploring possibilities . I have been looking into solar energy while watching the price drop and interestingly I have been told France is thinking about a swap policy for every unit you generate one comes off your bill and no standing charge . This would mean you could set up a system that would mean no storage problems for you and you have a back up in that you are attached to the grid . Its an interesting and I think very economical idea .
Obviously not everyone will be able to generate electricity but if enough people do I think it will make a big difference. France has the highest percentage of Neuclear Power in the world by far and closing down one of those due to solar being more economical would really make my day .

David


I agree I think the world should live within its means. This means no debt and only using what you need and giving others the excess of what you produce.

I believe if our energy was free and our access to information was free and our direction as a human race (with the vague but great and balanced understanding to the meaning of life) were to be understood as a whole then we may make greater steps into peaceful future.

Some of the most important things to think about imo is that we are a species and all species are built on the laws of the universe and more so simple the laws of survival. (Survival of the fittest and Natural selection) Although being the most intelligent species from our "understanding" and how we view intelligence we are able to manage our survival yet we are still curious and stupid enough to test it. What I mean by all this is that if it were not for "business/money" we could come to learn to a better understanding of life. Trade may always be there but we do not need to put an emphasis on payback but more so an understanding that balance must be kept.... who is to say one life is better than the other?... we can manage all life to a point of existence and allow it to play its part in the greater plan...
 
John Hill
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C. Letellier
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Okay why isn't a glass highway possible? Let me hit the problems possible and possible problems I see and go from there. The idea is far more thought out than in the paper because the paper was designed to hopefully get people asking questions and I didn't want to trap them in my thinking if they had a better idea. I could always present more information later.

The first thing is glass is highly breakable isn't it. Well properly tempered glass in large pieces is nearly 3 times stronger under compressive loading as compared to concrete and nearly twice as strong under tensile loading as compared to concrete. Glass is incredibly strong under the right conditions.

This brings problem 2. Tempered glass breaks all over at once if scratched. To solve this you only need to protect it from scratching.
prince ruperts drop info to see the danger.

To do this I would suggest a layer of glass brick bonded to the top of the main surface. Mirror the sides to aim the light down. Make them out of a glass less inclined to fracture that will take scratches. Maybe bond it with the same compound we use in car windshields? This also serves another couple of purposes. Small localized damage could be repaired simply by replacing a few bricks. Also the joints between the bricks would allow for rapid temperature changes while isolating the glass below from it some what. Thus the chance of thermal stress fractures in the main glass would be smaller.

This brings problem 3. Wouldn't the glass have to be really thick. the answer is yes. Just guessing probably 2 ft thick plus some sort of foundation material probably another foot or so thick. Well isn't that to much to haul in? When they rebuilt the highway next to me several years ago they hauled in 2 to 4 feet of fill to raise the highway and then capped that with probably another 6 to 8 inches of asphalt. That causes me to say the answer is no. The problem would be the greater haul distance from a centralized factories making the glass panels. This is probably the make or break of this idea and the one I don't have an answer for of the questions I can see.

Now you asked about movement and breaking glass. Lets look at types of movement that might be a problem. Movement 1 would be earth slips, slumping, erosion under cutting and so on. Well for those areas stick to asphalt is the easy answer. At least here in WY they are a tiny part of the total mileage. Next would be movement under extreme braking of heavy loads. If each panel is properly located with a large dome shaped dimple fitting over a large dome shaped stub the panels can be anchored to the foundation. Their weight plus the weight of the load on them plus maybe pushing against nearby segments should cause them to stay put. Now what about land movements from uplift/subsistence. By making each segment of highway 12 to 20 feet long this would provide joints where things could bend. Use the same polyurethane noodles that are pounded into cracks in the highway now as seals between the joints.(finish the seal with the same hot tar mix we use now. Frost heave could mostly be beaten by simply having the whole structure deep enough to be below the frost line. Add good drainage and it shouldn't be a problem. What about lateral movements shearing the highway. If each segment terminated in a wavy(sinusiodal) pattern like old style bridge expansion joints that one could probably be prevented.

Okay how do your replace segments then since they have to press solidly on each other? How about if you just hinge them up in the middle of pairs till they separate. Might need to lift 4 or 6 at time to make work but that is simply a matter of big machinery. Then hinge the new sections in place while reconnecting them to power etc.

Then the next thought is that would take huge quantities of glass sand. Well here in north central WY the answer is the Tensleep sandstone formation. Several glass factories used to run out of it. It is a good glass sand and the bonding on rock is so mild that it is so friable that it is possible to dig through it with your bare hands.(it is hard on hands but you can do it) In other places you have desert sands or lake sands that are good for glass making.

Sun for the melting energy most of WY has more sun days per year than almost anywhere in the country. So that much would work. Since the glass would be a thermal phase change storage medium the energy to melt it would be essentially free. If you could make 1000 ft worth of panels a day, 300 days per year and if they were good for 30 years you could create and maintain 1700+ miles of highway with each solar thermal plant set up.

 
C. Letellier
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As for the rail road that also would be nearly ideal. Manufacture the ties with built in solar cells. They are already connected by 2 conductors in the form of the rails. While steel is a poor conductor you have a lot of cross sectional area to help negate being a poor conductor. Tap the power out of the rails every few miles into an inverter and dump it into the line. Most areas have power lines crossing or beside the rails every few miles so this would work easily in many areas. With welded rail systems the rails are a continuous conductor. You would need breaks every few miles to isolate sections of rail so you can tap their power out. But you would only have to have an inverter at every other one since the rails both directions could service one inverter. Keep the voltage as low voltage DC and the risks to everyone and everything from the uninsulated rails would be small. Pack the ties as close together as the need for drainage allows to increase sun surface area. Sounds like a really good idea so far. The only real holes I can poke in it are first unlike highways, sidewalks and parking lots rails are not plowed of snow. It would take very little to add a power brush to the front of the train to fix that though.. The second is the much smaller surface are available compared to a highway to gather power. Both from being narrower and because the ties couldn't be right next to each other for good drainage reasons. The third is because of all the vibration all electrical connections would be at risk. Probably all of those could be beaten or simply accepted and produce a good result. Solid idea I would say.

As for fiber optics being used to concentrate light for cells that one has more problems. The biggest is that fibers take random damage from cosmic rays which you can't protect from. If several fibers full of concentrated light developed a "leak" or an "obstruction" because of a ray suddenly you have a furnace in the middle of the cable trying to destroy it. I looked at this as a way of lighting basements with natural light at one point and that was the big danger I could see and I could see no way to prevent its happening eventually. In communications fibers the power is so small it doesn't matter and the fibers are so cheap that if 50% of them fail over a 10 year period you just make sure you have enough in the bundle to cover for several decades anyway. This is also why fiber optic is pulled into conduits. Then it can be replaced without digging it up again.
 
John Hill
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First off SMARTER EVERYDAY! I love his videos and wow thanks for the info that's new to me. I'm not saying its not possible I'm saying I think its not feasible. I think this is a good idea and you should push for the idea to be used in side walks and cross walks first.

But why glass? you are just replacing concrete and asphalt with glass and putting panels under it?

I like the idea of making glass bricks but there are a few issues with them that I can see. We have torn up many brick roads because of the cost and maintenance involved in them and replaced them with cheaper materials (asphalt/stamped concrete). Also the way the earth under it moves and the traffic on top of it causes the bricks to shift,pop out and be pushed out by snow plows. We had issues with brick crosswalks in my local city just recently. They were replaced with brick but with a foundation of about 6-10 inch concrete giving the bricks a solid base...until the concrete breaks.

What about weather and harsh winters with salt and snow plows?

I still see the earth movement and the traffic being a problem... Especially large simi trucks. Not to mention the costs and maintenance involved.

Solar cells that are so widely used right now are made from silicon because its the cheapest and most abundant for manufacturing and sales. I think using the sun as a source to melt the glass would be ideal too. Perhaps they can start using that technology into their process of making silicon.

I think if you can come up with another idea to sell us on glass roads other than it can produce power..like it produces power but in the future we will be hovering over them. Your thoughts for utilizing a production product in place of a another that is not productive is very exciting and think you should keep up the ideas.

I found this link dated back in 2009 perhaps you could research it more and find out where it has gone.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=driving-on-glass-solar-roads

I could see them used in courtyards and side walks and cross walks in the future though! this is very interesting. The city grew up in is going to be doing a lot of changes and perhaps I could give them some of your ideas. This is great keep up the good work.

 
John Hill
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As for the rail road I was not thinking about replacing ties but building an umbrella like structure down the tracks. Great thinking though perhaps there is something there. IDK

Thats a good point I didn't think about the furnace affect. Now that I think about it yea that could be a large issue because of the intensity of light needed. That is def. a hurdle to overcome. From my understanding the intensity and wavelengths of light are a factor in determining its power output along with current and voltage. I think if there was a way to incorporate the ideas you had with the sun and melting the glass and putting that into better technology in absorbing that light we'd have something.

They use fiber optics now for lighting inside. With my next house underground I would need another light source to light the dungeon. lol but yea thats low intensity light just directly from the sun nothing to magnify it.
 
C. Letellier
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The original reason for thick glass was to concentrate the light. Either using optic cones of varying density glass or cones of glass coated with a super thin layer of aluminum to mirror them. Since normal solar cells are only about 10% efficient and high efficiency ones are to expensive to use generally what if we struck a happy medium. During a college field trip we visited the SERI(now called NREL) site in Golden CO and they were using high efficiency cells but focusing light up on them with heliostats and cooling them with water to keep the cells cool enough not to self destruct. The plan was eventually tap the water's heat for energy also to improve the efficiency more. The reason it never developed was the cost of the heliostats was to high and came out to about the same price as making the plain panels out of the high efficiency cells. But that lead to the thought could we do the same thing with the highways and glass. Use better quality cells and focus more light on them using the glass cones. Below the solar cell mount a thermionic module to gather more energy and finally cool the thermionic module with water and then tap it for even more heat energy. Maybe a 20% solar cell + 10% thermionic module + another 10% from the heat energy in the water. It might be possible to get the gains up in the 40% or better range with economical parts using current technology. Use the highway itself as the cooling side of the water power generation.

The original plan was mold it all in the big glass modules and to directly texture the tops of the glass to be the surface of the highway. That lead to thinking that the stripes and wear particles could be stood up in the glass vertically while molding using magnetic fields. That came out of an article on how the carbide burrs were made and the magnetic field was used to orient the carbide while it was brazed in place on the burr. But all that was before I understood how tempered glass self destructs and before I understood the need to protect it somehow. Thus thinking of some sort of wear surface of glass on top of the main glass which meant the stripe and wear particles would move out to the bricks instead of being in the main glass body That lead back to thinking of the bricks in the french road that started all of this thinking back in college days. Since I was planing on using sinusoidal shaped joints that lead to thinking of the bricks as having flat sides but half sine wave shapes convex and concave at each end. That would also match the staggered rows of cones for shape. Alternately long hexagons was the other option in the thinking. But either way I was still thinking of needing to melt huge quantities of glass so using the glass as the heat storage phase change material in a heliostat based solar field still worked fine in the thinking. So that is why the glass.
 
C. Letellier
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PS did you read the rest of the document?
 
John Hill
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no ill read it when i get a chance.

id like to hear what other people of the forum think. You need a lot of people to see this is the next innovative step in solar and a lot would need to change. What about bike paths?
 
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