Coffee to Stimulate Solar-Based Power Generation

Tuesday, 26 March, 2019 - 09:30
Cairo- Hazem Badr

An Italian research team has created a coffee-based "colloid" fluid to stimulate the conversion of solar energy into thermal energy that can be used in electricity generation.

Generally, a "Colloid" fluid is a liquid that contains small particles or molecules of different types. The particles used by the research team in this study are coffee.

The techniques used currently to convert solar energy into heat are mostly based on the indirect absorption of sunlight through solar panels that waste a huge amount of energy. Promising alternatives relying on colloidal liquids that have emerged recently help absorbing sunlight directly, and thus, reduce energy waste.

In their study published in the latest issue of the journal Scientific Reports, the Italian researchers found that involving coffee in the colloid fluid stimulates a better absorption of solar power, and convert it to thermal energy used in electricity generation.

The research team found that the perfect components of this fluid are distilled water, Arabica coffee, glycerol, and copper sulfate. However, "coffee is the most effective ingredient in this mixture", Pietro Asinari, professor of energy at the University of Turin, and the study lead author told Asharq Al-Awsat.

"The coffee particles suspended in this mixture showed high efficiency in direct absorption of solar energy, and small concentrations of copper sulfate were added to prevent the biological sedimentation, and the unwanted growth of microorganisms and algae in the liquid, while glycerol was added to prevent the freezing of the liquid, so it can be used in cold weather," Asinari explained.

In experiments conducted by the research team, the fluid, which contains coffee, has shown a competitive advantage to absorb solar energy directly when compared to conventional panels and other colloid fluids.

According to Asinari, the new liquid proved higher efficiency with less thermal loss and higher energy conservation rates when compared to conventional panels. And, when compared with other nanotechnology-based colloidal liquids, it showed close results in the rates of thermal loss and the amount of energy produced and surpassed it with its affordability and environmentally friendly nature.

The next step for the research team is to develop a prototype of this idea, says Dr. Asinari, noting that the "first step was to prove that the inexpensive coffee-based colloidal liquid is efficient as other nanotechnology-based liquids and outperforms conventional panels, and we actually achieved it."

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