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New less-toxic ingredient from sea water makes solar more affordable

Nadine Watters
New less-toxic ingredient from sea water makes solar more affordable
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Scientists at Liverpool University have discovered something that will significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing cadmium telluride solar cells. (1)

Compared to the solar cells made of silicon, telluride cells are much lighter, cheaper and thinner. Up until now, cadmium chloride has been used in the production of these solar cells. The problem with cadmium chloride is that it’s toxic. (1) It’s also expensive, especially considering the necessary protection for the workers to safely use and dispose of the waste. There is also the concern about tellurium being such a rare element, and that it would not be a lasting resource if solar energy becomes popular and the demand for these cadmium tellurium cells sky rockets. (1)

A non-toxic replacement

Luckily, these scientists have discovered a new non-toxic replacement for the cadmium chloride: magnesium chloride!!! Magnesium chloride proves to be just as effective as the cadmium chloride and it’s considered to be totally safe.(1)

Magnesium chloride is found in bath salts and is used in making tofu. (3) It’s a great deal cheaper, too, since it can be extracted from sea water. With magnesium chloride 99.7% cheaper to produce, and derived from an abundant resource, this makes the ultra-thin photovoltaics, which were already the cheapest solar cell available, even better. (2)

Dr Major has says,”Cadmium chloride is toxic and expensive and we no longer need to use it. Replacing it with a naturally occurring substance could save the industry a vast amount of money and reduce the overall cost for generating power from solar.” (3)

The future of solar

This is a major breakthrough for the solar energy industry. In order for solar energy to become mainstream, it needs to be more affordable. Replacing cadmium chloride with magnesium chloride, could mean that solar energy could finally compete with the other  power industries. (1)

Dr Major claims, “The way solar is progressing it will just be a matter of time before it becomes competitive with fossil fuels and eventually replace them.” (1) He also claims, “There is enough sunlight that falls on the Earth every hour to generate enough electricity for the planet for a year.” (1) Wow, an amazing leap forward for solar energy!

Sources for this article include:

(1) www.bbc.com
(2) www.psfk.com
(3) www.sciencedaily.com

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/6fuYxZ

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