Solar energy is an effective source of renewable energy, and falling costs due to increased availability of technology and subsidies have made it cheaper than ever. But this power source is not without its drawbacks, especially when you consider the number of resources used to make solar panels. Fortunately, one Australian company has figured out how to repurpose solar’s least recyclable component: silicon.
Silicon, made famous enough in tech that they named a valley after it, is used as a semiconductor in solar panels, but once these panels wear out after 15-25 years, it is difficult to extract and repurpose. Researchers from Australia’s Deakin University have designed a technique that uses electron-shifting abilities of the extracted silicon to repurpose it into high-performance lithium-ion batteries.
One of its developers, Ying Chen, is calling it the “holy grail” of repurposing, as it takes material that is otherwise waste and turns it into a valuable power source. This is good news for commercial silicon consumers and for the planet, as its discovery makes this green power source more sustainable than ever.
This story was one of the best from 2019, and we are happy to include it in our “12 Days of Optimism” as we welcome in the new year!