M3 Features

Solar power from animal blood

January 16, 2014

Waste blood from slaughterhouses that usually goes down the drain, rotten fruits that you normally dump in kitchen dustbins and shredded leaves that remain scattered on the roads during winter could be used to light up your house, run a fan to keep you cool in summer, or even charge your mobile phones when there is a power cut.

Scientists of the SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences in Salt Lake City have made a breakthrough in technology by which they have manufactured solar panels from a component extracted from waste blood of slaughterhouses.

Harnessing power from blood

Blood has a component, haematoporphyrin that has been employed by the experts to create the technology. It is found abundantly in the blood of animals. And very similar compounds are also found in leaves and fruits, such as pumpkin and papaya.

The cost of solar panels forms a substantial part of the ‘power from solar technology’. This breakthrough can drive down the cost of solar panels drastically; it may even phase out thermal power plants in future.

There are other advantages, too. First, it is much cheaper that its silicon counterpart. While the cost of silicon-based cells is usually around $350 per square metre, a blood-based cell would cost a mere $10 per square metre.

Less dependence on thermal power

Scientists are now working to bring about certain improvements where they think the new device is still lagging. “Our panel could use only 2% of the energy from the sun rays that fell on it. Solar cells can convert 24%. We hope to achieve at least 7% efficiency very soon. We can reach around 86%,” Professor Pal added.

But how abundant is the chemical that has triggered the technology? An adult human contains trillions of red blood cells and each RBC contains an abundance of haemoglobin.

Each haemoglobin molecule contains four units of haematoporphyrin. In animal blood, the prevalence is equal, or more. Scientists are yet to find out the count of the chemical and its variants in fruits and leaves.


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