Glass building blocks can generate solar energy
Researchers from the University of Exeter in Britain have created a new building block capable of generating its own clean energy.
As Inhabitat.com reports, the scientists put together a series of glass blocks each embedded with small solar cells. These blocks not only generate energy, but also accommodate thermal insulation and allow for natural light to penetrate buildings.
The blocks, named Solar Squared, are embedded during the manufacturing process. Each contains a variety of optical elements that focus sunlight on minuscule solar cells. These blocks have been created to ensure maximum solar absorption, even in low light areas.
As the academics from the university’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science explain in a statement: “The modular design is completely scalable, and allows for seamless architectural integration. The streamlined nature of the technology enables it to be embedded in conventional construction materials, meaning that its applications are myriad.”
Solar power has been deemed one of the greenest energy sources. Yet the financial expense of putting in photovoltaic panels on buildings and their negative visual impact on building architecture have hampered the power source’s development.
“People tend to make comparisons with standard solar panels found on roof tops but it’s necessary to also include the value of the underlying building material in order to quantify the value proposition,” says Dr. Hasan Baig who, along with Prof. Tapas Mallick and IIB Research commercialization manager Jim Williams, hope their patent-pending Solar Squared design will attract test sites and investors in the construction industry.