Solar paint is a very new concept currently being developed and tested. The basic idea is to create a type of liquid silicon which can be painted or applied to surfaces in order to create electricity.
Silicon has historically only been used in solid and gas form. The break through of creating a useful form of molten silicon has come only recently. The practical applications for solar paint are boundless because it can theoretically be applied to any existing buildings and structures. It will come as no surprise to you that America is the largest consumer of electricity in the World. The need for more diverse renewable energy products and sources is only going to grow as fossil fuels slowly run out.
The best solar panels are still your standard solid state monocrystalline solar panels as they offer the best cost efficiencies of watts per dollar. However, as the demand for domestic solar power grows new technologies like solar paint will surely carve out a niche for themselves if they can get production costs down to a profitable level.
Nanotechnology can most easily be described as the science of creating and engineering gadgets, devices and systems which are extremely small, almost microscopic. Nano particles are around a thousand times thinner than a hair. As you can probably guess this research is very expensive and is in fact only being carried out by a few institutions.
To make solar paint, liquid silicon is combined with a binding agent and/or some form of adhesive. When light hits the paint it excites the particles who release free electrons thereby producing a small electric current.
Presently there are NO solar paint products available to buy anywhere.
What you’ll want to look out for is the color changing photochromic paint which is not solar paint at all. This paint changes color when light shines on it, but it doesn’t produce electricity. Solar paint technology is still being refined and optimized to be cost effective for mass production.
Solar paint is very costly to produce because of all the extra processing to get the silicon into liquid form. It’s presently not a viable consumer product because the efficiency is low at around 10%, whereas the most efficient solar panels provide efficiencies greater than 20% or more.
The following are the current government agencies, institutions and private companies who are developing solar paint products.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is currently working on a silicon based solar ink, and private company Du Pont has already released their own version of solar ink called Innovalight. This product is presently not designed for public sale. The technology is mainly being developed to help make building thin film solar cells and flexible solar panels more cost effective and adaptable as well as adding to existing solar roof panels to increase output.
In terms of a commercially viable solar paint product the companies currently in the race are NextGen Solar. Mitsubishi and New Energy Technologies.
All of these companies are looking to develop a spray-
Solar paint is not here yet, but it’s only a matter of time until one of these companies comes up with a marketable product for consumers.