Not only is there a clear win in terms of cost and lowered toxicity, but it also takes tofu out of the market! This is a clear win all around.
Seriously, it's interesting that this was not looked at earlier. Obviously the current solution was deemed 'good enough' and researchers moved on to other things. Kudos to Dr. Major for going back over that assumption and improving on the process.
Really good material to forward to researcher so that they donot give up on alternatives to costly and inefficient processes/materials. And as far as Tofu goes, i also donot like it as its apperance and taste do not match.
While we're on the topic of solar panesl, what's the state of the art in flexible panels?
I would love to be able to work outside under a golf umbrella whose panels were proving the power to keep my laptop running. The panels wouldn't have to survive "civil servant's brolly" regimes of folding, just be flexible enough to allow the canopy to be closed.
That would imply around 40 - 50 watts from a 2-metre diameter. Around 3m square, so 15 - 17 watts/m. square. How close is that to reality?
Presuming no process cost difference to use magnesium chloride instead of cadmium chloride the question remains, just what percentage of total manufacturing cost is the cadmium chloride material cost? If it's 20% then cost savings is close to 20% but if the cadmium chloride is only 1%...
The problem is that cadmium chloride is toxic, so working with it is risky and requires special equipment. Here's another article on the magnesium chloride breaktrough: IEEE Spectrum.
Cadmium chloride is filthy stuff. Its cadmium ions are extremely toxic, causing heart disease, kidney disorders, and a host of other health problems. One accidental spill of the water-soluble compound can wipe out fish from a river.
And rather than needing to use fume hoods and gas masks, as is required during the cadmium chloride process, "We can deposit magnesium chloride using an airbrush, spraying it on the back of the solar cell," says Major.
Toally agree, even if costs were the same, or savings minimal, then going the non toxic route should be done. But the title of the article is "Bean Curd Component Could Slash Solor Panel Costs". Note the key operative here is "Slash", which implies a qualitative difference. Interested in whether that's true, and if so, by how much.