Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Getting wrapped up in solar textiles

A 3-D rendering of "Soft House", which uses household curtains to collect solar energy and provide lighting.
A 3-D rendering of "Soft House", which uses household curtains to collect solar energy and provide lighting.

Abstract:
MIT lecturer focuses on flexible photovoltaic materials

Getting wrapped up in solar textiles

Cambridge, MA | Posted on June 9th, 2008

Sheila Kennedy, an expert in the integration of solar cell technology in architecture who is now at MIT, creates designs for flexible photovoltaic materials that may change the way buildings receive and distribute energy.

These new materials, known as solar textiles, work like the now-familiar photovoltaic cells in solar panels. Made of semiconductor materials, they absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Kennedy uses 3-D modeling software to design with solar textiles, generating membrane-like surfaces that can become energy-efficient cladding for roofs or walls. Solar textiles may also be draped like curtains.

"Surfaces that define space can also be producers of energy," says Kennedy, a visiting lecturer in architecture. "The boundaries between traditional walls and utilities are shifting."

Principal architect in the Boston firm, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd., and design director of its materials research group, KVA Matx, Kennedy came to MIT this year. She was inspired, she says, by President Susan Hockfield's plan to make MIT the "energy university" and by MIT's interdisciplinary energy curriculum that integrates research and practice.

This spring, Kennedy taught a new MIT architecture course, Soft Space: Sustainable Strategies for Textile Construction. She challenged the students to design architectural proposals for a new fast train station and public market in Porto, Portugal.

For Mary Hale, graduate student in architecture, Kennedy's Soft Space course was an inspiration to pursue photovoltaic technology in her master's thesis.

"I have always been interested in photovoltaics, but before this studio, I am not sure that I would have felt empowered to integrate them into a personal, self-propelled, project," she says.

Kennedy, for her part, will pursue her research in pushing the envelope of energy-efficiency and architecture. A recent project, "Soft House," exhibited at the Vitra Design Museum in Essen, Germany, illustrates what Kennedy means when she says the boundaries between walls and utilities are changing.

For Soft House, Kennedy transformed household curtains into mobile, flexible energy-harvesting surfaces with integrated solid-state lighting. Soft House curtains move to follow the sun and can generate up to 16,000 watt-hours of electricity--more than half the daily power needs of an average American household.

Although full-scale Soft House prototypes were successfully developed, the project points to a challenge energy innovators and other inventors face, Kennedy says. "Emerging technologies tend to under-perform compared with dominant mainstream technologies."

For example, organic photovoltaics (OPV), an emergent solar nano-technology used by the Soft House design team, are currently less efficient than glass-based solar technologies, Kennedy says.

But that lower efficiency needn't be an insurmountable roadblock to the marketplace, Kennedy says, because Soft House provides an actual application of the unique material advantages of solar nano-technologies without having to compete with the centralized grid.

Which brings her back to the hands-on, prototype-building approach Kennedy hopes to draw from in her teaching and work at MIT.

"Working prototypes are a very important demonstration tool for showing people that there are whole new ways to think about energy," she says.

####

About MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Teresa Herbert
MIT News Office
Phone: 617-258-5403

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Iranian Researchers Present New Model to Strengthen Superconductivity at Higher Temperatures April 19th, 2014

Iranian Researchers Produce New Anti-Cancer Drug from Turmeric April 19th, 2014

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014

Announcements

Iranian Researchers Present New Model to Strengthen Superconductivity at Higher Temperatures April 19th, 2014

Iranian Researchers Produce New Anti-Cancer Drug from Turmeric April 19th, 2014

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014

Energy

High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation April 17th, 2014

Scientists Capture Ultrafast Snapshots of Light-Driven Superconductivity: X-rays reveal how rapidly vanishing 'charge stripes' may be behind laser-induced high-temperature superconductivity April 16th, 2014

Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage April 15th, 2014

A molecular approach to solar power: Switchable material could harness the power of the sun — even when it’s not shining April 15th, 2014

Textiles/Clothing

Thinnest feasible membrane produced April 17th, 2014

Making clothes from sugar: IBN researchers have found a green and efficient method to produce nylon from sugar April 1st, 2014

FibeRio® to Present “Polyester Nanofibers for Oil and Fuel Filtration" at AFS Spring 2014 Conference March 19th, 2014

Fabrics Resistant to Growth of Microbes Produced in Iran March 17th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation April 17th, 2014

A molecular approach to solar power: Switchable material could harness the power of the sun — even when it’s not shining April 15th, 2014

Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells: Photovoltaic solar-panel windows could be next for your house April 14th, 2014

Scientists open door to better solar cells, superconductors and hard-drives: Research enhances understanding of materials interfaces April 14th, 2014

Construction

Scientists Produce Self-Cleaning Coatings on Glass Substrate March 17th, 2014

Iran Applying Nanotechnology in Growing Number of Industries March 10th, 2014

Colored diamonds are a superconductor’s best friend March 6th, 2014

Iranian, Spanish Scientists Investigate Thermal Stability of Nanostructured Bainitic Steel February 26th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE







  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE