The next generation of solar energy technology

Knowledge constructed by experience is a lived knowledge, full of emotions and reasoning, very close to what we mean by wisdom. It is a deep and enduring knowledge

There is a growing need in human societies for the use of an alternative, sustainable, renewable and clean energy source. The present Nature Based Solutions Learning scenario aims to demonstrate that it is possible to capture, concentrate, transform and store solar energy more cleanly and efficiently than actually is. The new technology can contribute to the well-being of humanity, ensuring the sustainability of our planet.

Subjects: Ecology; Electricity; Botany; Topics: Sustainable management of energy resources; electric current and electrical circuits; photosynthesis; Age: 13-16.  

(1) At school, the teacher launches challenges to the students: Draw, in groups or individually, an experiment that allows to ascertain whether it is possible to concentrate solar energy. Other challenge is to produce electricity from sunlight with photosynthetic pigments. Experiences that students draw and perform: – Construction of a solar collector; – extraction of photosynthetic pigments from the leaves of plants; – construction of organic solar cells; – use of the multimeter to evaluate the results; – observation of the results.

(2) Out of school, online: Theoretical research on photosynthesis, photosynthetic pigments, solar cells, clarification of doubts, exchange of ideas with peers, preparation of the report and preparation of the presentation.

(3) At school: Presentation of solar collector and solar cell prototypes; Discussion of results.

The first invention resulting from the learning scenario consists of a parabolic and reflective surface of sunlight that concentrates radiation in a thermal collector. The students formed the thermal collector with a refractory glass capsule coated with a layer of porcelain and aluminum. Inside there is a mixture of salt and sand. At the base of the solar collector is a styrofoam plate. Theoretically, the inside of the collector can reach temperatures above 1000 oC.

The second invention lies in an electric glass consisting of solar cells associated in series. Each solar cell consists of two electrical conductors and a semiconductor formed by a set of photoactive phytomolecules.

The third invention is a solar cell. At the center of each cell is a compound consisting of several photoactive biomolecules that absorb different wavelengths of the solar spectrum.

The fourth invention is a 12 Volt photosynthetic solar battery of voltage that uses the Sun as the main source of energy. This battery consists of 8 solar batteries in series. The first prototype provides enough power to light a small lamp.

The fifth invention is a 3D photosynthetic solar panel with three reflective surfaces that double the amount of solar radiation incident. With a simple inverter, this panel can generate a voltage of 220 Volts.

The sixth invention is a direct form of capture and transformation of solar energy using living plants. This simple system formed by 20 small plants generates a voltage of about 15 Volts.