Following The Sun

Kamran Siddiqui, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering along with his graduate student, Hassan Hassan, has developed two new technologies that boost the efficiency of traditional solar panels and other solar energy applications.

“Typically, panels face south, which makes sense if they are stationary,” Siddiqui says. “But it means they are only aimed directly at the sun for a very short duration (solar noon) and for the rest of the day, the panel orientation with respect to the sun continuously changes, resulting in the lower output. If you move the panels as the sun moves across the sky, they are much more efficient.” In fact, studies show they are about 40% more efficient when aimed directly at the sun all day long.

Unlike existing systems that rely on expensive microprocessors to calculate the sun’s path, Siddiqui’s solution tracks the sun with sensors and positions the panels accordingly.If, however, the moving panels required large amounts of energy to remain in proper alignment the benefits would be reduced. That’s where Siddiqui and his student’s second innovation comes in.

A load compensator is a mechanical device that carries almost three-quarters of the weight of the solar panels making it easy for a small, energy-efficient motor to move the panels into perfect position.The smaller motor is both energy efficient and less costly, making the entire system very cost-effective. Furthermore, the innovative “plug-n-play” design of the tracking system, reduces the installation cost by up to 75%. Siddiqui and Hassan are now working with WORLDiscoveries® to patent and market their innovation through a spinoff company named “Grenetek Inc.”

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