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This new technology will forever change the world, batteries will no longer be needed: Solar cells that collect energy from any light, even a candle, promise devices that never need to be charged

Written by Noel Budeguer
Published 11/06/2024 às 09:18
Energy - Solar energy - photovoltaic panels - solar panels - renewable energy
Solar cells that harvest energy from any light, even a candle, promise devices that never need charging: The future without cables and batteries

Discover how flexible, durable solar cells harvest energy from any light, even a candle, eliminating the need for batteries and cables in devices

Every year 3,1 billion batteries are discarded… just from TV remote controls. Getting our devices to charge themselves (whether with sunlight, artificial light or even candlelight) would free us from the need to plug them in or change their batteries, making them very more sustainable and energy efficient.

The Exeger Powerfoyle Promise

The Swedish company Exeger has developed flexible photovoltaic cells that promise to change our relationship with electronics: they are specialized in converting light from practically all internal sources into electricity. Its creators compare the technology, capable of harnessing the light of a candle, to algae at the bottom of the sea, where the darkness is almost total: “we can use just a few photons very efficiently”.

The Powerfoyle solar cell is durable enough to be incorporated into bicycle helmets, but also versatile enough to imitate leather and brushed steel to fit into bags and speakers.Source: TheIndependent

“The biggest advance since 1988”

Although photovoltaic cells have been in devices like calculators for more than 50 years, this is “the biggest advance since 1988”, says Giovanni Fili, co-founder of Exeger.

It refers to the year in which researchers at the University of California discovered how to produce low-cost flexible cells. But they were too fragile and inefficient to be integrated into complex electronic devices such as Bluetooth headphones.

A new type of electrode for energy harvesting

Fili and his partner, Henrik Lindström, patented a new material with a conductivity a thousand times greater than conventional electrodes (the component that allows the collection and transport of electrical current in the photovoltaic cell).

In addition to being flexible, this skin-like material is resistant to water, dust and impacts, and can be used in modern electronic devices, ensuring efficiency and durability in energy capture.

Lots of way to go

Um technical document lowers expectations. For now, Powerfoyle cells deliver a voltage between 0,57 and 0,6 volts when exposed to light of 100 to 1000 lux (an LED with a color temperature of 5000K). The output power varies between 6 and 54 microwatts per square centimeter. Part of the problem is that the material produces a considerable shadow that reduces its effectiveness. Powerfoyle is still not enough to never recharge a smartphone again, admits Exeger, but they can increase its autonomy by 50%.

Exeger claims its Powerfoyle solar cell is the most durable in the world. Source: Exeger

They are already being manufactured in series

Exeger has been working on this invention for years and already has the capacity to produce 2,5 million square meters of Powerfoyle film per year, which is printed with a “top secret” machine. The first generation is now ready to hit the market in products such as headphones, wireless speakers and a bicycle helmet. Among its clients are Philips, Marshall, Kapsch and Adidas. The company hopes to reach a billion people by 2030 in one way or another.

Image | exeger

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Noel Budeguer

Of Argentine nationality, I am a news writer and specialist in the field. I cover topics such as science, oil, gas, technology, the automotive industry, renewable energy and all trends in the job market.

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