‘Black Diamond’ Breakthrough Can Change The Future Of Solar Technology

A new solar power technology has been developed, generating energy by harnessing diamonds.

A European research team within the European Commission’s FP7 framework, are leading the ProME3ThE2US2 project, developing the ‘black diamond’ as a breakthrough concept which is expected to change the future of solar technology. It has the potential to exceed 50 per cent efficiency in solar concentration systems.

The ProME3ThE2US2 project aims to develop, validate and implement a new solid-state conversion mechanism, which can transform concentrated solar radiation into electric energy at very high efficiency.

According to researchers, diamonds satisfy two of three conditions required for solar radiation capture; the ability to withstand extremely high temperatures and the capability to emit electrons efficiently. Due to the transparency in diamonds, they are unable to interact with sunlight. The ‘black diamond’, however has been created with the capacity to fulfil all three conditions; the added ability to allow absorption at temperatures up to 1000°C.

As an exciting new low-cost material, the ‘black diamond’ has the potential to be exploited for uses outside solar technology. The ProME3ThE2US2 team are opening research opportunities to other industries to explore further potential benefits.

Dr Daniele M. Trucchi, coordinator of the ProME3ThE2US2 project, claims sustainability is vital in the creation of new technologies, for them to viable within both economic and environmental parameters. Speaking to International Innovation, he explains: “Solar radiation is the largest energy source we have on Earth. Its more efficient and diffused exploitation means a higher energy availability with a minimal contribution to CO2 formation.

“Nevertheless, high efficiency is not enough – materials composing the converters cannot be toxic to humans and have to be simply and economically recoverable at the end of their lifetime.”

Despite a fall in funding for solar research and development projects in recent years, largely due to low hydrocarbon prices, the ProME3ThE2US2 team are optimistic that prices will rise and the economic case for fossil fuels may subside, opening up new channels and opportunities for their work to be recognised.

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