Solar Panels Can Now Use Rain to Produce Electricity

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The Koch Brothers need to start sweating (if they’re not already) as solar panels are becoming more and more efficient. And with the latest development in the technology we could even start seeing them in places we might not expect.


A team of Chinese scientists have developed a work around for the issue of solar panels in cities like Portland, OR. or London where close to half of the yearly weather conditions consists of rain.  Rain is a long time enemy of solar energy, and has seriously inhibited its implementation in many places around the world.

However, the Chinese team has been experimenting with adding a very thin layer (an atom thick in fact) of graphene used to coat the outside of the solar cells.


A Little Bit of Chemistry


Graphene is important due to its relation to the water droplets during a thunderstorm. When water droplets fall onto the surface, the layer of graphene — which has an excessive amount of electrons able to move freely across the surface — has a low potential whereas the water surface has high potential.

This difference allows for the graphene to bind to the positively charged ions in the droplets, this process is known as the Lewis acid-base interaction.


Image Credit:

Image Credit:


The salts contained within the droplets separates into ions [ammonium, calcium and sodium], producing graphene and H2O. This water is great for creating energy, as it clings to the graphene creating a duel layer forming a pseudocapacitor with the graphene electrons. The presence of the low and high potential difference creates a charge that can be converted into electricity.


We’re Sorry if That Sounded Like Gibberish


The most important part for you is (probably) not how it works, but that it works. This technique does have its drawbacks however, the energy conversion for rain is 6.53%. Which is relatively low compared to the best solar panels ability to convert sunlight at upwards of 22%.

But some electricity is better than none.


This technology is still being developed and is not in the market yet, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.




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