Increasing solar panel efficiency with algae

Swedish company Swedish Algae Factory developed a method to use the silica shells of diatom algae, which can enhance the efficiency of solar panels.

Diatom is a type of unicellular microscopic alga that lives deep down in cold dark seas. To survive, the algae developed a unique, inorganic silica shell. The cell wall has a very specific pattern of tiny pores, allowing exchange of nutrients and waste products. Diatoms can b found anywhere where there is moisture and some light. Swedish Algae Factory is the world’s first company to cultivate these algae and harvest the shells.

The shell-based material, called Algica, traps visible light, blocks harmful UV-light, absorbs and releases chemical substances, is very durable and stable, and has a high consistent quality. When used in solar panels, the material can boast the efficiency by at least 4 per cent. By adding higher concentrations, efficiency gains of 10 per cent are expected.

Additionally, Algica can be used in personal care products such as moisturizers and cleansers, thanks to the UV-filtering and pollutant blocking qualities.

When algae grow, they capture carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorous and release oxygen. Because the algae come from the ocean, the Algica material is completely ocean safe.

Photos: Swedish Algae Factory