Easing concerns about pollution from manufacture of solar cells

Feb 25, 2008

In a finding that could help ease concerns about the potential environmental impact of manufacturing solar cells, scientists report that the manufacture of solar cells produces far fewer air pollutants than conventional fossil fuel technologies. Their report, the first comprehensive study on the pollutants produced during the manufacture of solar cells, is scheduled for the March 15 issue of the ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.

Solar energy has been touted for years as a safer, cleaner alternative to burning fossil fuels to meet rising energy demands.

However, environmentalists and others are increasingly concerned about the potential negative impact of solar cell (photovoltaic) technology. Manufacture of photovoltaic cells requires potentially toxic metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.

In the new study, Vasilis M. Fthenakis and colleagues gathered air pollution emissions data from 13 solar cell manufacturers in Europe and the United States from 2004-2006. The solar cells include four major commercial types: multicrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, ribbon silicon, and thin-film cadmium telluride.

The researchers found that producing electricity from solar cells reduces air pollutants by about 90 percent in comparison to using conventional fossil fuel technologies.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Oil from Russian trawler wreck reaches Canaries' beaches

Related Stories

Printing silicon on paper, with lasers

Apr 21, 2015

In seeking to develop the next generation of micro-electronic transistors, researchers have long sought to find the next best thing to replace silicon. To this end, a wealth of recent research into fully ...

Quantum dot TVs are unveiled at China tech expo

Apr 18, 2015

At this month's China Information Technology Expo (CITE) event, a headline-maker was the launch of quantum dot televisions, by QD Vision and Konka, the consumer electronics company. QD Vision's calling card ...

Cobalt film a clean-fuel find

Apr 15, 2015

A cobalt-based thin film serves double duty as a new catalyst that produces both hydrogen and oxygen from water to feed fuel cells, according to scientists at Rice University.

Recommended for you

Holistic soil to boost productivity

Apr 24, 2015

Western Australia has launched Soil Constraints – West, a flagship initiative bringing together research on a range of farming problems that limit agricultural production.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Doug_Huffman
not rated yet Feb 25, 2008
Ahh, there are pollutants other than in air. I would not expect to find Pb, Hg, Cd in air at all.

Dilution is the solution to pollution. Each of these is derived from a dilute natural source, return them whence they cam.
Valentiinro
not rated yet Feb 26, 2008
If people were especially concerned about this it probably wouldn't be too hard to develop capturing technologies for these pollutants anyway. Much like the carbon capture ideas for coal power plants.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.