Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hair Solar Panels

Milan Karki, an 18 year old from rural Nepal has invented a solar panel which uses human hair in place of silicon.

Inspired by Stephen Hawking's discussion of hair as a conductor of static electricity, Karki and four classmates from his school in Kathmandu developed the panel as a project.

The panel takes advantage of the fact that the melanin that gives hair its color is light sensitive (think of how your hair lightens in the sun), and also conducts electricity. The panel creates about 9V(18W) of electricity, enough to charge a cell phone. And, since it doesn't use silicon, it also doesn't create the toxic waste that comes along with creating traditional solar panels.

The hair does need to be replaced, but it costs about 1/4th the cost of conventional solar panels that generate the same electricity amount of power.

Living in a highly industrialized country, this probably won't change your life or mine, but in rural areas such as Karki's where they can be without power for 16 hours a day, this may offer a less expensive local energy source.

Daily Mail (via Gizmodo (via Neatorama))

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