U.S. Air Force plans to power drones with dye-sensitized solar cells
Jul 13, 2009 14:38
Drones to be powered by solar cells embedded with pigment found in purple bacteria.
The U.S. armed forces had recently escalated its efforts to go green with the use of trash-powered generators and solar arrays to power bases. Funded by the armed forces, a University of Washington research group is trying to power drone with purple bacteria (of course not in the original form). The researchers are working on these purple microorganisms and trying to develop a synthetic dye, which does the same job.
The pigment found in purple bacteria can thrive in shallow water and can convert CO2 to carbohydrates using solar energy. The research group is trying to mimic the process using a synthetic dye that can be embedded in solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The process can be carried out for indefinite periods of time, so these cells will possible never need a change.
Presently dye-sensitized solar cells are used to power mobile devices such as cellphones, and taking them a step further where they can power UAVs will definitely take something extra, which these researchers believe is the purple bacteria pigment. In addition to being a cheaper alternative to silicon solar cells, these cells are also lightweight and can easily be spread across the wings of a UAV without taking up extra space or adding much weight to the drone. Till date the Air Force has spend about $450,000 on the project and are expecting a bacterial drone within three to five years.
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