Technology: High Power Flexible Solar Blankets
Agency: Naval Research Laboratory
What is better than a warm blanket on a cold night? How about a blanket that can produce energy by soaking up rays from the sun? We’re talking about the Naval Research Laboratory’s high power flexible solar blankets (or Blanket 2.0 I like to call it). The common comforter is getting an upgrade.
What is it?
It’s like a blanket on solar steroids. NRL is developing photovoltaics (solar cells) that combine high power output with lightweight and flexibility. It works by using crystalline, high efficiency multi-junction solar cells, which are lifted off the growth substrate and laid down onto a lightweight, flexible blankets. This forms a blanket with potentially three TIMES the power output of current technologies.
What does that mean?
This is, essentially, how we create portable solar panels.
Think about some of the advantages this blanket can have, starting with convenience. Being able to transport a regenerating power source that doesn’t weigh a ton is awesome. Also, given the particular environment with which troops tend to find themselves, using the natural resource of the sun just makes sense. It’s also eco-friendly, which means these blankets are in keeping with the Department of Defense’s going green initiative. They’re also more cost effective, since they’re designed to be used over and over again and they can recharge equipment in the field.
Truthfully, people in general could benefit from this technology. (more…)