Jamun, a fruit native to India and certain parts of Southeast Asia, could help reduce the price of solar panels by an amazing 40-percent. According to the study, conducted by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, black plum has been found to contain a specific pigment that is capable of capturing sunlight efficiently. Growing in abundance across the subcontinent, this fruit could therefore greatly bring down the manufacturing cost of photovoltaic cells.
Regarded as a fruit fit for gods in Hindu mythology, jamun (or Syzygium cumini) is a common sight in Indian fruit markets, especially during the months of May, June and July. Trees bearing black plums often grow to over 100 feet in height, while also boasting long lifespan of nearly 100 years. The team, however, is more interested in the pigment anthocyanin that found in large amounts in these fruits. Speaking about the research, Soumitra Satapathi, a professor at IIT Roorkee, said:
We were looking at why the jamuns are black. We extracted the pigment using ethanol and found that anthocyanin was a great absorber of sunlight.
To check its efficacy, the scientists added anthocyanin as a sensitizer in a type of thin-film PV cell known as dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC). Thanks to its impressive ability to harvest sun’s energy as well as extremely low price, this naturally-occurring dye, which is also present in cranberries, raspberries and even cherries, could help reduce the costs of solar panels by up to 40-percent.
At present, however, DSSCs have an efficiency of only around 0.5-percent, which is almost negligible compared to 15-percent efficiency of conventional silicon solar cells. Nevertheless, the researchers believe that the findings are significant as they could pave the way for inexpensive, non-toxic and biodegradable alternatives to traditional photovoltaic panels.
The research was recently published in the IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics.
Via: Quartz India