Researchers from the University of Exeter have been busy bees, but their insect of choice is butterflies. In studying the insects and the way that the position their wings before flight, these expects have come to realize a better way to gather energy from solar panels to better produce and use this renewable resource in greater amounts than ever before.
Solar Panels Develop to Imitate Nature
In order to generate as much photovoltaic energy (or PV energy) as they can, scientists are always looking for ways to improve the process. They found such a way in the way that Cabbage White butterflies position their wings for “power” before taking off. This v-shaped position has set a point of reference for researchers to set solar panels and, after doing so, they found that they could get about fifty percent more energy from solar panels than they could previously. “Crucially, by replicating this ‘wing-like’ structure, the power-to-weight ratio of the overall solar energy structure is increased 17-fold, making it vastly more efficient.” Clearly, there is something in the way that nature operates that makes it as efficient as possible for the organism, a detail that those at Exeter have discovered.
The way that the butterflies place themselves and settle their wings in this v-shape, called “reflectance basking,” allows for the insects to absorb sunlight and energy to prepare for the exertion of flying. In a similar way, solar panels are set so that they can take in the maximum amount of light in order to power buildings. Both require periods of absorption, storage, and release of energy; because they are so similar, it makes perfect sense to look to one thing in order to perfect the other (the nonliving, man-made devices that can, in fact, be perfected, or at least adjusted). Perhaps further study of these butterflies or other species will allow experts to develop new and more productive ways of harnessing solar energy and creating solar panels as time goes on.
With the output of power only growing as time goes on and technology improves, you should consider solar power for your residence or business. For more information on solar panels and for commercial energy efficiency and solar power, get in touch with Tim Kyle Electric.
Butterflies heat up the field of solar research
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