Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

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

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

Tel Aviv/Tsinghua University project uses crowd computing to improve water filtration: The research, a product of the new TAU-Tsinghua XIN Center, was conducted by 150,000 volunteers at IBM's World Community Grid July 6th, 2015

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover July 6th, 2015

A Stretchy Mesh Heater for Sore Muscles July 6th, 2015

Announcements

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

Tel Aviv/Tsinghua University project uses crowd computing to improve water filtration: The research, a product of the new TAU-Tsinghua XIN Center, was conducted by 150,000 volunteers at IBM's World Community Grid July 6th, 2015

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover July 6th, 2015

A Stretchy Mesh Heater for Sore Muscles July 6th, 2015

Energy

New technology using silver may hold key to electronics advances July 2nd, 2015

Visible Light-Sensitive Photocatalysts Used for Purification of Contaminated Water in Iran June 30th, 2015

June 29th, 2015

Making new materials with micro-explosions: ANU media release: Scientists have made exotic new materials by creating laser-induced micro-explosions in silicon, the common computer chip material June 29th, 2015

Textiles/Clothing

World’s 1st Full-Color, Flexible, Skin-Like Display Developed at UCF June 24th, 2015

Cellulose from wood can be printed in 3-D June 17th, 2015

Researchers create transparent, stretchable conductors using nano-accordion structure June 16th, 2015

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Continues Global Development Focus on Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Applications: Industrial Nanotech Continues Connecting With Manufacturers Who Seek Out Their Patented Thermal Insulation and Protective Coatings June 11th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

Making new materials with micro-explosions: ANU media release: Scientists have made exotic new materials by creating laser-induced micro-explosions in silicon, the common computer chip material June 29th, 2015

Spain nanotechnology featured at NANO KOREA 2015 June 26th, 2015

Stanford researchers stretch a thin crystal to get better solar cells June 25th, 2015

Toward tiny, solar-powered sensors: New ultralow-power circuit improves efficiency of energy harvesting to more than 80 percent June 23rd, 2015

Construction

Research findings point way to designing crack-resistant metals June 24th, 2015

Solar cells in the roof and nanotechnology in the walls June 16th, 2015

Production of Nanocomposites by Using Direct Nano-Welding of Micromaterials in Iran June 4th, 2015

Environmental Issues to Hamper Growth of Global Nanocomposites Market June 4th, 2015

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