Developing a Low-Cost Solar Technology for Remote Areas
In places where resources are scarce and distance creates barriers to conventional electrification methods, solar power holds great promise. Small-scale, highly localized solar power can power electronics, heat food, and provide lighting. However, the high cost of conventional silicon crystal photocells prohibits the spread of solar technology in places like rural sub-Saharan Africa.
A new approach to solar energy production could change that scenario. Partners at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Cincinnati are using a nanotechnology-based apparatus that employs low-cost titanium dioxide (widely used as a base for white paint) and organo-metallic pigments in flexible plastic packaging to create a more affordable solar cell.
The partners are setting up student exchanges between the institutions, studying models for research capacity and developing technical models for the solar energy devices. Working together, the University of Cincinnati and University of Cape Town seek to:
- Develop the University of Cape Town as a hub for the growth of African education by establishing a Nano Technology Center at the university
- Deliver faculty development at African universities and develop new hubs and entrepreneurial centers
- Develop improved teaching and learning facilities and curricula
- Develop indigenous solar panel technology
- Enhance the University of Cape Town’s reputation for and expertise in nanoscience research and innovation
At a Glance
University of Cincinnati; University of Cape Town
Feb 2011–Feb 2013