Connect with us

Special Solar Panels Also Water Desert Crops

Credit: Unsplash

Power from the sun, water from the air.

Many parts of the world, especially those in extremely arid climates, are still severely lacking in water and power infrastructure. This is why scientists working in these regions have been looking for ways to improve the availability of both. Utilizing a new kind of solar panel system, a team of researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia may do just that.

This new kind of system features a solar panel mounted on top of a specially-designed layer of hydrogel. When the panels collect solar power from sunlight, any leftover waste heat is directed to the hydrogel, which drives water vapor out of it and into the air, where it’s collected by a box and turned into clean water. This water is then utilized on a small farm plot, watering crops.

“A fraction of the world’s population still doesn’t have access to clean water or green power, and many of them live in rural areas with arid or semi-arid climate,” says study author Peng Wang. “Our design makes water out of air using clean energy that would’ve been wasted and is suitable for decentralized, small-scale farms in remote places like deserts and oceanic islands.”

“Our goal is to create an integrated system of clean energy, water, and food production, especially the water-creation part in our design, which sets us apart from current agrophotovoltaics,” Wang adds. “To turn the proof-of-concept design into an actual product, the team plans to create a better hydrogel that can absorb more water from the air.”

“Making sure everyone on Earth has access to clean water and affordable clean energy is part of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. I hope our design can be a decentralized power and water system to light homes and water crops.”