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The History of Solar Energy

Although Jan 6 was a dark day, this is a light blog. Now, solar energy will receive more funding and attention as the democrats push for clean energy. While we wait to find out how solar power will rise, let’s go back and see first sunpower rise. Here is the history of solar energy.

A Bright History

Technically, humans have been utilizing solar power since the beginning of time to light fires. They would use glass to reflect or intensify light. The earliest civilizations, such as ancient Romans and meso-Americans, would create sunrooms to capture the sun’s warmth and light. For the Romans, it was used to heat water in bathhouses. For thousands of years, humans used various methods to keep themselves warm. Then, in the time of voyages, the sun was a blessing and curse to sailors. While the sun burned their skin, the sailors figured out a way to cook food in solar stoves.

Solar Panels Are Born

Scientists experimenting with solar power in the 1800’s. Edmond Becquerel first discovered the photovoltaic effect, which is light producing electricity. Remember, electricity was still a relatively new concept at this time so this was a futuristic discovery. It will take a couple more engineers, scientist, and years to create the first solar cell. It couldn’t generate power yet, but it set scientist on the right track. In 1883, Charles Fritts nabbed the backbone of solar technology with his solar cells. They now contain selenium, which allowed solar power to convert to electricity. As of 1883, scientist know how to create & store solar energy.

Then, it would take 70 years for the modern-day solar power panel to enter the stage. Selenium cells evolved into silicon solar cells in 1954 at Bell Labs. The cutting-edge engineering now allowed objects to be powered by solar energy. Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson are to thank for finalizing the solar panel design. At this time, solar cells operated at 4% efficiency. The United States used this new technology to power satellites and for the infamous Space Race. The first home to have solar panels was in 1972.

 

Solar Power Today

Today, solar panels typically reach in between 15-20%. But, some have the ability to hit 42% efficiency! Modern-day solar panels are a little over 5’x3′ big. They are made of silicon, wafers, and lead making up one solar cell. Then, about 32-36 cells make up one solar panel. Finally, a protective coat is applied to capture the rays, as the shiny silicon can cause the rays to bounce off. Solar power is used for everything, and more homes are seeing solar panels. It took about 100 years of history to arrive at the solar energy we have today.

 

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Electric Cars: How Do They Work?

Today’s automobile technology and engineering is impressive. Specifically, electric cars and how they work. From the first experience with electric automobiles in the 1800’s, here’s how electric cars work today.

Hybrids: Gas and Electric

First, electric cars use different types of batteries. This depends on if the car is hybrid or purely https://afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/how-do-hybrid-electric-cars-work#:~:text=Hybrid%20electric%20vehicles%20are%20powered,in%20to%20charge%20the%20battery.&text=The%20extra%20power%20provided%20by,allow%20for%20a%20smaller%20engine.electric. Hybrids use Lithium Ion, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), and Lead Acid batteries. These batteries are similar to regular car batteries. Just as a regular battery recharges itself, so do these. Because these batteries have two sources of power, they can last roughly up to 10 years. Surprisingly, most hybrid cars do not have the plug-in option. U.S. Dept. of Energy says, “Hybrid electric vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, which uses energy stored in batteries. ” DC/DC electrical current recharges the battery. Also, hybrids have an electric generator. The electric power helps reduce gas emissions, especially when stopped. So, less fuel emissions in the air when you pull one of these through a long drive-thru.

Hybrid cars use electric power until it needs the gas. Then, the gas fuels the engine itself and the electric generator for restoring electric energy. The transmission transfers mechanical power from the engine or electric traction motor. Hybrid cars do use oil.

 

Electric

Unlike hybrids, the only way to power your car is by plugging it into an electric grid. According to EDF Energy, there are five components that make up an all-electric engine. First, the current is typically AC, but can be DC/AC. The inverter takes care of the electrical currency. Then, the drivetrain is responsible for the single-speed transmission. However, the batteries do not recharge while the car is in motion. Newer electric cars will last roughly 250 miles before it has to stop at a charging station. There is talk about “electric roads” that will recharge cars from pavement to car in the future. Electric cars are purely electric as they don’t require oil.

 

And that is how electric cars work. They are becoming increasingly popular as electric automobile engineering and technology improve. Soon, they’ll be all over the road and we can reduce our carbon dioxide emissions! Would you buy a hybrid/electric car? Let us know in the comments!

 

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