V3Solar photovoltaic Spin Cell generates 20 times more electricity per cell than flat panels

Oct 02, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org)—V3Solar has developed a new way to convert the sun's energy into electricity using traditional technology in a new way, and in so doing have discovered a way to get twenty times more electricity out of the same amount of solar cells. Their new device, called the Spin Cell, does away with the traditional flat panel and instead places the solar cells on a cone shaped frame which are then covered with energy concentrators. Once in operation, the whole works spins, making unnecessary the need for tracking hardware and software. What's more, they actually look nice.

Up till now, virtually all have been based on flat panels with solar cells mounted on them. The panels are mounted on poles which allow for tilting to track the as it passes overhead in the sky. This new approach turns the old idea completely on its head.

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Because of the great potential of , researchers have looked into increasing the of solar cells by using lenses or mirrors to direct more of the sun's energy onto them hoping to get more electricity out of the same number of cells. Unfortunately, doing so tends to create so much heat that the cells become useless. The engineers at V3Solar took this idea and modified it to prevent such overheating by mounting the cells on a rotating platform; doing so means that each cell only receives extra heat for a very short amount of time and is then allowed to cool as the cone spins. The concentrators form an outer skin creating a hermetically sealed inner environment for the triangular shaped blue colored solar cells. The cone is situated on a base of electromagnets powered by some of the energy that has been converted from the sun's energy by the , creating a nearly frictionless spin. The result is a marvel of engineering and an artistic triumph – a means to produce much more than traditional flat panels in a pleasing, and as the company says, beautiful way.

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The only shadow on this bright idea might be the price. The company hasn't said just yet how much each cone will cost, but surely it will be far more expensive than a flat panel. The question is, will the cost for one be equal to or less than twenty traditional panels, making them cost justifiable? Only time will tell of course, but in the meantime, no doubt many will have their fingers crossed as the cones actually look like something out of a science fiction movie, and that will surely be reason enough to have many rooting for them.

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More information: v3solar.com/nature-is-as-beaut… er-of-all-invention/

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hb_
2.6 / 5 (17) Oct 02, 2012
I do not see all the solar concentrators. To get 20 times the efficiency, you should need solar concentrators that are 20 times larger than the solar cells themselves. But, I do not see them?

Also, you may be able to concentrate direct sunlight, but diffuse sunlight will not be focused so easily. So, the cone can only be used in regions where clouds are uncommon.
Mungaman
3.3 / 5 (17) Oct 02, 2012
You're right hb. You should write them a letter to tell them how unjustified all their claims are. You are ridiculously smart.
be4r
5 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2012
I do not see all the solar concentrators. To get 20 times the efficiency, you should need solar concentrators that are 20 times larger than the solar cells themselves. But, I do not see them?


The surface area of the lenses concentrating light are semi-conical, so it looks smaller than it is. According to their website, however, they state that they see 5X more power with a 50% cost reduction per watt. So physorg may be pulling that 20X number out of nowhere. Unless they're talking about voltage, which could be possible compared to some flat panels. Although I wouldn't really call it "electricity" in that context.
JustAnyone
2.4 / 5 (10) Oct 02, 2012
Freakin' gimick. Designed to attract investors, not get real energy. too many moving parts to deploy en masse.
Deathclock
4 / 5 (12) Oct 02, 2012
Freakin' gimick. Designed to attract investors, not get real energy. too many moving parts to deploy en masse.


Yeah, clothes dryers must have too many moving parts to deploy "en masse" too huh?
DavidW
4 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2012
20 times? Something is missing in this. That would create a panel that puts out "about" 2 times more energy than the received from the sunlight in the first place.

They say:
"This compares well against flat panel PV which uses approximately 12 square meters installed for 1KW, or a ratio of 12 to 1."

That's saying current PV is less than 10% efficient.

Sunlight's composition at ground level, per square meter, with the sun at the zenith, is about 527 watts of infrared radiation, 445 watts of visible light, and 32 watts of ultraviolet radiation, which is aproximetly 1000 watts or 1KW per square meter.

They say:
"At present 10KW can be mounted on our Power Pole in an area using 10 square meters of space installed."

That's 100% efficiency. What gives?

M_N
1 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2012
I think the 20X figure just reflects the fact that they are concentrating the light, so each cell produces 20X what it would otherwise if it was exposed to the sun directly. Obviously they can't exceed 100% efficiency. If they used triple junction cells they might be able to get around 40% efficiency.
Jeddy_Mctedder
2.2 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
The spinning device has concentrators on the surface. Its using far less silicon per footprint than a flat panel. Thing is people are already researching concentraded pv using all sorts of concentrators and using pv other than established mono and poly silicon.

The catch here is only that the device spins to keep itself cool. Excess heat and wear is the big problem resulting from the necessary approach of concentrating light to bring down material costs. Pv panels in space recieve concentrated sun ( and excess uv) without atmospheric blocking amd they wear out far quicker than pv on the ground.

Spinning might be a great solution. Ultimately the composition of the material determines how much heat and tolerance/wear it can take. However any technology....like biological organisms themselves will operate optimally usingan optimal mix of composition, behavior, etc....it is posdible that spinning is a superior but will consumers put spinning Heavy devices on rooftops?
Sonhouse
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2012
The concentrators are the circular tubes on the outside of the cells, strips of half cylinders as long as the cone, looks like maybe 6 of them. They concentrate light on a series of cells as it rotates. It would be instructive to see 12 square meters of flat cells up against 12 square meters of these conical cells. One thing for sure, there will be more triangular cells than flat cells for the same surface area collected. Half the cells on the conical section won't see much light. The pulsing idea in interesting as it will lead to cooler cells. So lets have a 'consumer reports' type A-B test, eh.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2012
I would add that while they look nice....spinning might make a big problem with ice and wind and what about cleaning this?

The beaty of concentrated solar in any form is that the material savings cost is traded off for complexity in most cases as the concentrator MUST dynamically track the sun to be worthwhile. Ultimately natures solution is best though but is probably the hardest technology to develop and is farthest away...... No cencentrators just mass produce cheap disposable recyclable pv we know as chlorophyl and the chemical cycle coming off it. However nature isnt traying to create electricity from photons
tpb
3.6 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2012
From their website.
"To understand V3, resonance is the key."V3 utilizes a series of precisely "timed events to build these waves of energy into more electricity than their individual components."

"With appropriate lensing, our 1000 watt Spin Cell is expected to use less than 0.20 square meters of 20% efficiency PV as the sunlight is concentrated 20X and efficiency is increased."

"Imagine a 1MW solar farm requiring approx 7 acres with flat panel solar. With V3, the same energy output requires less than half an acre, saving on land cost, maintenance, weed control, cleaning, framing and other expenses."

I'm afraid this is snake oil. Read the crap about resonance on their website.
So, they concentrate the energy 20x but somehow do this using 1/2 acre versus 7 acres.
WOW, 20 * (7/0.5) = 280 times improvement.

Since their cells aren't tracking the sun, only a small portion of the cells on each conical section will get any sunlight unless the sun is directly overhead.
alq131
2.5 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2012
ok, have to say it...

Usually only marketing spins a product...looks like engineering got involved this time.
Tim_Riches
not rated yet Oct 02, 2012
Does it rely on a rubber o-ring? :)
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2012
This fails in so many ways, the 'spin' is a bit pathetic, but to cut through any issues it comes down to the key question, which is:-

"What is the cost in dollars/KWhr installed?"

and what is the differential it will maintain this for at least 10 years ?
hemitite
4 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2012
Wouldn't the angle of the sun make a big difference to this supposed "resonance" effect? If the sun were directly over head, then there would be no "strobe" to allow the escape of those clogged up electrons...
VendicarD
not rated yet Oct 02, 2012
Currently panels are 15 to 20 percent efficient.

20 * 20 = 400,

100/20 = 5

The efficiency claims are therefore nonsense.
ValeriaT
4 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2012
The rational core of this idea is, that the solar cell is behaving like the diode with exponential current/voltage curve. So that the stronger illumination is, the better yield we get, until the solar cell will not become too hot. The natural solution would be to use the concentrator and some cooling system, which would utilize the waste heat. But V3Solar did choose the very strange solution, in which the effect of concentration gets dissipated with rotation of collector. So that few cells are working intensively and effectively - whereas the rest of cells doesn't work at all at the price. IMO the thorough calculation would reveal, that this solution is economical nonsense, as the substantially higher price of these collectors indicates already. The same applies to various "solar trees" and another collector constructions, which are sensitive to wind and difficult to maintain. We discussed it here already..
ValeriaT
2.2 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
This construction rather serves as an illustration of the Darwinist character of the evolution of engineering and technology, which doesn't go through optimal solution in straightforward way. But it rather tries all less or more meaningful solutions first like the mutations, which are getting tested in competitive environment. In accordance to my experience, that the people will use the correct solution just after when they fail with all these wrong ones. The mainstream science is not any better in this regard - such a blind approach helps the employment of various people, who are working frenetically on realization of solutions, which are predestined to fail in my eyes. This is an interesting aspect of human civilization, it never forgets its evolutionary roots.
ValeriaT
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2012
the beaty of concentrated solar in any form is that the material savings cost is traded off for complexity in most cases
I would even accept it - but in this particular case the material savings is traded off for apparent material waste: the expensive silicone cells are saved just with the redundancy of expensive silicone cells, the majority of whose remains unexposed to direct sunlight and wasted in such way.

So sorry - but it isn't beautiful, but sorta comical solution.
javjav
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2012
spinning might make a big problem with ice and wind

In fact wind could be a good complement for this thing. Once installaed you have already paid for the electromagnets, a spinning surface, a conexion to the grid, transport and installation, which makes 95% of what is needed for a wind turbine. To start with, you could just orient the collector semicilinders in opposite directions on each half of the cone, to make it work as a Sabonius wind turbine (an "S" shape) without additional cost or complexity. It is not very efficient for a big turbine, but the lack of any orientation requirements make it ideal for turbulent areas, like houses in a town or to attach them on top branches of trees.
Grallen
4.3 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2012
The profile of this device exposed to the sun is approximately equal from dawn to dusk. The concentrators avoid low performance during low light times. The spinning avoids overheating due to concentrators. The while device is encapsulated in an immobile clear dome that has the concentrators at part of it's shape.

The increased profile over the course of the day will likely give a great improvement in performance vs. immobile flat panels. Much less of an improvement vs. tracking panels. Depending on how simple this design is internally, it could be less costly than tracking panels. Being sealed, it would likely have much less maintenance. All the while still having an improvement in efficiency due to improved exposure during the day. By my observations, there is a good chance that this is worth while. Not guaranteed. I would very much like to test these for myself.

Though, I admit that their marketing and explanations are still very poor.
marciot
5 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2012
"This electricity is then conditioned by the power electronics, transferred to the electromagnets in the base ring. As these spin past the electromagnets in the state array, AC power is produced"

What?
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (4) Oct 03, 2012
Okay, maybe this is just too obvious. Couldn't you more than double the efficiency just by strategically placing some mirrors around it, or creating a concave (focal mirror) "bowl" for it to sit in?

Sheesh. I should patent this idea myself and take away their toy altogether. Anyone with me?

VendicarD
1 / 5 (4) Oct 03, 2012
With all this spinning internal electronics the electrons will get confused and won't know which way to flow to get outside.

They will act like drunken Republicans trying to get out of a Republican convention who need the help of common street hookers to show them the way.

VendicarD
1 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
"What?" - marciot

Never question magic, or someone trying to sell you a bridge.

Capitalists never lie.
VendicarD
1 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
Oh, I almost forgot..

http://www.youtub...=related

Not even UbVonTard is stupid enough to fall for this device.

Bob_Kob
3 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
I was expecting the video to say "and the spinning creates a centrifuge effect that forces those pesky electrons out and into your wires!"
rjsc2000
not rated yet Oct 03, 2012
In the end what matters is how much output it generates and how much it costs. Eficiency matters but it's not what matters most
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (3) Oct 03, 2012
Any high school student who can do math would be appalled at this statement
..you have already paid for the electromagnets..
NO, if you really wanted to go down that path then PERMANENT magnets would save resistive losses in any 'electromagnets'. And if you wanted grid connection you just need a pair of inductors and phasing electronics...

Its "Savonious" by the way... Eg. http://en.wikiped..._turbine

Saltpeter
5 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
A pretty ornament for the coffee table.
- Ideal Christmas gift.
drhoo
not rated yet Oct 03, 2012
The idea requires that the cells have time to cool off significantly before their next turn into the sun. That this happens is not automatic, it depends on how the heat is removed.
Introducing moving parts to each cell raises reliability and cost issues.
I am not buying it.
PLANETARY DEFENSE
3 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2012
Looks like smoke and mirrors to me !
Once the cost is available it all looks too reliant on mechanical energy which has to come from somewhere.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Oct 04, 2012
OK, lot's of misunderstandings in the comment sections
1) concentrators work like this: large concentrator - small PV cell. This means that you do NOT plaster 100% of the available area with PV cells (since then there would be no point to a concentrator). The point is that you use (20x) less PV material for a given area of sunlight.
It does NOT mean that you get 20x more energy per area.
It means you get 20x the energy per PV material(!) area used.

2) Weather: The concentrator (on the outside) is stationary - only the cells rotate (on the inside). So the cells or any moving parts aren't exposed to weather at all.

3) Moving parts: A magnetic bearing has none.

The method is actually very much like the one used in X-ray anodes, where a concentrated electron beam is shone on a spinning wolfram disc (on a magentic bearing) to produce the x-rays. The spinning allows the parts of the wolfram exposed to the beam to cool off before being hit again (otherwise the stuff would melt)
Bog_Mire
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
nice summary a_p - shine a light on the article's lack of clarity indeed
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (3) Oct 04, 2012
antialias_physorg enlightened us with some focus so we have the potential to understand
OK, lot's of misunderstandings in the comment sections


Cost per KWhr installed ?

MTBF, Lifetime etc ?

Derating for time and temp ?

What power is lost through the 'electromagnets' ?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 04, 2012
shine a light on the article's lack of clarity indeed

I dunno. All the things I said are pretty clearly spelled out in the second paragraph.

MTBF, Lifetime etc

That would depend on the PV material used. Magnetic bearings are virtualy maintenance free. We're still talking concentrators and there is possibly some other effect due to constant heating/cooling that will degrade the cells faster than unconcentrated ones (though probably much less so than stationary concentrated ones). And since the amount of PV material is small replacement every 10 years or so should still be economical.
The inverters are actually a main factor in MTBF - and since this design needs none that's a big plus.

What power is lost through the 'electromagnets'

Not much. Once this thing is up to speed there is not much that is slowing it down. The bearing part is done with permanent magnets. The electromagnets are for maintaining spin and AC generation, only.
drhoo
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
If it doesn't have moving parts how does the electricity get off the rotor?

If the cells are in a rotation with X duty cycle in the sun then why not decrease the concentrators by X and not rotate at all?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
If the cells are in a rotation with X duty cycle in the sun then why not decrease the concentrators by X and not rotate at all?

Because then you'd need:
a) x times more PV cell (which is what they are trying to avoid)
b) a method of following the sun (which is also what they are trying to avoid)
c) an inverter
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (3) Oct 04, 2012
antialias_physorg offered
a) x times more PV cell (which is what they are trying to avoid)
b) a method of following the sun (which is also what they are trying to avoid)
c) an inverter
This raises a few 'opportunities'.
In respect of labelled items:-
a. Depending on the average PV piece 'quality' the higher concentration might allow (some) previously junked bits to be used effectively.
b. The 'concentrator' might manage the fixed cone angle to some degree re dichroic (equivalent) effect ie Ameliorating angle range
c. This makes it looks like a synchronous motor/alternator with circulating power on transient insolation, makes for some interesting interconnections between the smallish panel segments to spread the probability over location issues...

:hmmm: Consulting, Paypal address donation address is netphone@iinet.net.au

*grin*
VendicarD
1 / 5 (3) Oct 04, 2012
The Moon Men have a large version of this device as was proven years ago by the first men to visit the interior of the moon.

You can see it in this documentary at time index 1:55

http://www.youtub...XjCM6tB8
drhoo
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
"'a) x times more PV cell (which is what they are trying to avoid)""

No i don't think so. Isn't the premise that the cells are exposed only briefly to the concentrator as they rotate.
If so stretch them out and irradiate them constantly with lower intensity light.
Good point about the tracking not needed though.

How does this system get by without an inverter. How does it get the power out from the rotating cells. I didn't see that part in the article.

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
No i don't think so. Isn't the premise that the cells are exposed only briefly to the concentrator as they rotate.

Concentrated PV cells are available with ratios beyond 100:1.

So if they use similar concentration ratios and have their cells exposed only a fifth of the time (due to the rotation) then they get a ratio of 20:1.

How does this system get by without an inverter.

It uses an AC alternator which is pretty much a freebie, since the contraption turns.
http://en.wikiped...ternator
Mike_Massen
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 06, 2012
antialias_physorg claimed, suggested, implied
The bearing part is done with permanent magnets.
They say this is maglev, really ?
Isnt that rather power hungry, besides magnetic bearings cant take large lateral loads, such as wind etc ?

Other issues:-
The Duty cycle in relation to specific heat vs the static panels doesnt quite factor, it would be cheaper to have conventional array with a rotating reflector ?

I've seen 20 year old flat panels tracking the sun nicely with gaseous gas/water trackers, once set, rather, Reliable !

The 'spin' in the first minute or so of the first vid above is a bit 'non technical' & implied definitions of 'effects'.

The only thing I like about this is the appearance, it looks so much like the alien spacecraft in the old UK British sci-fi thriller 'UFO' which had some similar sequences of the alien spacecraft in the UK series 1999...

Sound effects anyone ?

But seriously, who can say what the dollars/KWHrs installed actually are ?

Thanks
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2012
Well, I'm not sure about the claims, but cooling a PV cell definitely increases it's efficiency.

Dan Rojas, on Greenpowerscience, proved a 10% gain in power output (coresponding to about an additional 1% vs ideal efficiency,) by cooling a PV panel by totally submersion in water in an aquarium, this is even after the losses from the impeding glass and water.

However, I'm not convinced that air cooling of a panel via rotation would be enough, but then again, if it's rotating around a cylinder or cone, each cell should receive on average 1/4th as much heating as if it was permanently fixed on the Sun, thereby radiating away waste heat in teh same way the Earth itself does.

Of course, when the Sun is directly over head, the cooling theory doesn't even work anyway, and then you have sub-optimal angle of incidence of hte radiation.

I question the real world cost effectiveness of this vs cheaper, passive cooling alternatives. Just submerge panels in air-tight water box with in/outflow.
Eric_Johnson
1 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2012
I see, concentrated sun like with a magnifying glass. Maybe we can call the company Solynder.
daqman
not rated yet Oct 07, 2012
I'm still trying to figure out how this works? Putting in a concentrator concentrates the heat as well as light which overheats the cells. So, the idea is to rotate the cells so that they are only hot for a fraction of the time. Ok, I get that, but that also means they are only producing power for the same fraction of time. So you could get the same effect by using less powerful concentrators or filters in front of the panels. What is the advantage of spinning the whole thing?
jshloram
1 / 5 (2) Oct 07, 2012
Bob Yirka, the author, claims, "I did manage to get a Bachelor of Science Degree." "Managed" is the operant term. They must have waved the requirement to pass Physics 1A?
trylogic
1 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2012
This publication date should read April 1st.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 08, 2012
Ok, I get that, but that also means they are only producing power for the same fraction of time. So you could get the same effect by using less powerful concentrators

Heating/cooling is nonlinear. How much an object heats/cools is determined by the tmperature differential you expose it to. High differential: fast cooling (heating).

The reasoning is the same for x-ray anodes
http://labspace.o...d=361885
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (3) Oct 08, 2012
:hmmm: "A water wheel that never dumps its buckets" vs 'what?' great tricknology lingo that !

And "Spinning disk makes the photons dance" - WoW !

Any reason why the 2nd vid (real one) has no concentrator, its only the CGI that does (1st vid) but, if its representative then the (cleaned) concentrator width looks to be ~20mm what line width does this focus down to then - makes for some interesting MTBF calcs...

Anyone prepared to offer a 'back of the envelope' type differential analysis ?

The cone speed - is it synchronous with mains freq, what if the wind wants to speed it up too much, wont that then drain power from the mains keeping its speed down etc ?

And the converse, what if the delta wind direction etc want to slow down the rotation rate, wont this just chew up solar power ?

Too many questions with too much spin, we need real hard numbers with good experimental methodology !
The thermal transients alone are worthy of exploration re panel life...

More data please ?
cdkeli
1 / 5 (2) Oct 08, 2012
With desperate magical rubbish like this on the market to lure gullible investers into financial disaster, is it any wonder the global solar PV industry is already imploding due to its technologial failure to compete with the unmitigated environmental evils of pervasive fracking and cheap coal?
Urgelt
not rated yet Oct 08, 2012
"The result is a marvel of engineering and an artistic triumph..."

That isn't reporting, it's repeating a company's PR release.

We don't need phys.org to be another PR website. Please stay objective.

Cone-shaped solar cells aren't new, but developing a way to fabricate them inexpensively has been a sticking point. Looks like V3 Solar is trying to get around the price-point problem by increasing the light falling on the cones, which produces operating temperature woes.

But rotating the cones to avoid overheating them means that each cone is receiving light and generating electricity only briefly. That's an efficiency loss. They're also wasting heat like crazy.

How do their efficiency versus cost numbers stack up against steam-generating collector arrays? That's the interesting comparison, not to flat panels.
VendicarD
not rated yet Oct 08, 2012
Conservative don't live in the reality based universe.

Witness...

"global solar PV industry is already imploding due to its technologial failure" - cdTard

Such Humilation....

Solar Panel Market to Advance by 15.3% through 2015

http://cleantechn...gh-2015/

The Largely Positive State of Global Solar

http://www.thefin...l-solar/

World's Solar Power Capacity Expected To Grow By Up To 400% Over 5 Yrs

http://www.the9bi...to-grow/
bottomlesssoul
not rated yet Oct 09, 2012
The price of flat panels out of China is about $2.5/W, cheaper than coal. The problem is storage, I need lights at night.
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (2) Oct 11, 2012
The price of flat panels out of China is about $2.5/W, cheaper than coal. The problem is storage, I need lights at night.
hmmm, If you get up earlier then you are less likely to have this issue ;-)

Car batteries from China are now very cheap, sure we could use a 12 or 24v dc system in conjunction with power points around the home, then no multiple conversions...