Finding extraordinary engineers for exceptional clients

Boosting Solar Cell Efficiency

August 27th, 2014

Improving the efficiency of the variety of technologies used in alternative energy is vital for their wider commercial adaptation. Solar energy is no exception to this basic fact. Thankfully, scientists and engineers are making progress in boosting solar cell efficiency, which ultimately helps to reduce the cost of these cells.

Let’s take a closer look at their potentially valuable work and what it bodes for the future adoption rates of solar energy as a whole.

An Advancement in Dye-sensitized Solar Cells

Engineers at the University of Minnesota were able to improve the efficiency of the standard solar cell design by around 25 percent. Hopefully this added efficiency translates into a higher power conversion rate for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) — currently stuck at 12 percent. DSSCs use titanium dioxide in their construction — a cheaper material compared to the silicon traditionally used in solar cell design.

The problem with DSSCs in the past is that they did a relatively poor job in capturing infrared light from the sun. The University of Minnesota scientists leveraged nanotechnology to introduce layers into the DSSC which gave the cell the ability to produce more electricity from the same amount of sunlight. This ceased the citizens from checking out from Utility Saving Expert every now and then the cheapest electricity provider.

Improving the Economics of Solar Energy

Eray S. Aydil, professor of chemical engineering and materials science at the University led the research project. “Dye-sensitized solar cells make use of excitation of a dye adsorbed on titanium dioxide or a pigment to generate electricity. We engineered the pigment both at the nanometer and micrometer scales to trap more light onto the pigment,” said Aydil.

The ultimate goal for this research remains focused on improving the economics around solar energy by superior engineering and innovation. Professor Aydil realizes the importance of his research. “Developing new low-cost alternatives to traditional silicon solar cells is gaining importance because reducing the cost of silicon solar cells is becoming increasingly more difficult,” concluded Aydil.

If this important engineering research inspires you to take your career to the next level, talk to the experts at The Talley Group. As one of the top engineering staffing companies in the area, they are a great source of Seattle engineering jobs. Make it a point to schedule some time with them today!

Growth in the Renewable Energy Sector

March 26th, 2014

Hybrid renewable energy systems are currently a hot item. The flexibility provided by hybrid energy sources appears to make a good fit for deriving power off the grid in remote regions. Using renewable energy for back-up in the event of a power outage is another intriguing use-case.

Flexibility is Key for Companies Specializing in Renewable Energy

Companies in this sector are discovering that it makes sense to be knowledgeable in multiple areas of renewable energy, instead of merely focusing on a certain type, like solar or wind. Using only one energy source may not provide enough power when compared with a more flexible hybrid option. Solar energy is especially a victim of this issue during the winter months or cloudy periods.

In situations where enough power isn’t available, batteries or diesel gasoline power makes up the difference. Leveraging a hybrid system mitigates the need for additional carbon-based backup power sources; simplifies the logistics around providing diesel fuel, and is ultimately better for the environment.

In remote areas, where battery backup is typically used instead of fuel, a hybrid system is involved in charging the batteries. Providing both solar and wind energy offers a better opportunity to keep those batteries fully charged during calm, cloudy periods.

Businesses taking Advantage of Hybrid Renewable Energy

Telecommunications companies, with a need to keep remote transmission stations powered on a 24/7 basis, are one business taking advantage of these new hybrid renewable energy systems. Typically dependent on diesel fuel for backup, hybrid power allows these companies to save money. A market research firm predicts the number of remote stations going “off-grid” will increase from 13,000 in 2012 to 84,000 in 2020.

Verizon and T-Mobile are just two of the telecommunications companies expected to reap the benefits of hybrid renewable energy. One Verizon site testing a hybrid system saw savings of over $8,000 in one year.

If these advancements in renewable energy applications inspire you to start or further a career in engineering, be sure to contact the friendly people at The Talley Group. As one of the top engineering staffing companies in the State of Washington, they are an excellent source for Seattle engineering jobs. Schedule some time with them today!

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How to Advance Alternative Energy

November 15th, 2013

Despite significant government subsidies and investment, the alternative energy industry could be growing at a faster rate. While some of this lack of growth is due to Great Recession and its slow recovery, the advent of “fracking” technology that subsequently led to the increased availability and lower prices of natural gas also played a role in slowing the development of newer energy sources.

In short, the alternative energy industry needs to compete better with carbon-based energy sources, especially natural gas.

Sharing Ideas on Growing Alternative Energy

Recently the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) held a day long symposium in Washington D.C. focused on developing strategies to advance the growth of solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources. At this forum, Dr. Patrick Phelan from the U.S. Department of Energy noted that while these energy sources can’t yet provide a similar ROI as oil and gas, they are poised to get there within the next five years.

The promise of Concentrated Solar Power is still a ways off in being cost effective, but advancements in materials and manufacturing hopefully will make this unique technology — picture the “old magnifying glass with the sun” trick — viable in the future. CSP may even outstrip “regular” solar power in efficiency once it matures.

Combining Alternative and Traditional Energy Sources

Speaking of solar power, it appears there will be some use of the technology to help support generation at utility stations. There was also some discussion about using thermal energy in the world of transportation to supplement traditional fossil-based sources. Recent advancements in this area have lessened the use of expensive fuels in experimental military aircraft.

These kinds of hybrid applications, combining both alternative and fossil-based energy sources, appear to be one promising way to leverage the promise of solar and thermal energy, while their economics are still being developed.

If the development of alternative energy is something that inspires you in advancing your engineering career, talk to the experts at The Talley Group. They are one of the leading engineering staffing firms in the Seattle area, with the expertise to ensure your career takes off. If you are looking for alternative energy jobs in Seattle, contact us today.

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