2015’s Coolest Solar Tech So Far

Bill Nye LightSail

25 May 2015’s Coolest Solar Tech So Far

Solar power technology is improving at a breakneck pace, and that means countless new cutting-edge products hitting store shelves each year. As solar tech gradually becomes smaller, cheaper, and more efficient, it will undoubtedly find its way into more and more consumer electronics. Here are the 10 coolest pieces of solar tech so far in 2015:

1) The GoSun Grill

GoSun Grill

Imagine a solar-powered cooker that can boil, fry, or bake enough meat for 8 people, all without needing any fuel thanks to its highly-efficient solar reflectors. Now imagine if it even worked… at night! Sound too good to be true? The folks behind the GoSun Grill don’t think so! By incorporating a special phase change thermal battery which they are currently trying to patent, these clever inventors have created a revolutionary new portable grill which turns sunshine into hot meals, at any time of the day.

2) The LightSail Solar Sailing Spacecraft

LightSail

Sunlight is composed of photons, which have no mass – but which have plenty of momentum! So, would it be possible to create a spacecraft which uses the Sun’s rays for movement in the same way that a sailboat uses wind? The Planetary Society thinks so, and its new LightSail spacecraft design is just the ticket! If the science itself doesn’t convince you, how about the fact that Bill Nye – the Science Guy himself – is personally backing this project?

3) Sunswift eVe

sunswift eve

Okay, so it’s 2015 and you’re disappointed that you don’t have a personal jet pack or flying Jetsons car yet – but the Sunswift eVe may be the next best thing! As far as futuristic transport is concerned, this extrordinary car truly is a harbinger of things to come. With a top speed of 140 km/h, this two-seat solar-powered car is nothing to scoff at. Best of all, its next-generation solar power panels and Panasonic NCR 18650 A/B battery give it an impressive range of up to 800 km.

4) Solar-Powered Water ATMs

Solar Powered Water ATM

Could solar power be the key to providing clean water in Pakistan’s Punjab province? If these new ATMs are anything to go by, the answer is a resounding yes! Created and deployed by a partnership between the Punjab Saaf Pani Company and the Lahore-based Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab, these ATMs – dubbed WRINDs – work much like most others do, except they dispense clean water instead of money. Set up near water filtration plants, the WRINDs are activated with cards distributed to the local residents, and are able to record precisely how much clean water is distributed to each family (up to a maximum of 30 liters per day). This not only gives people in one of Pakistan’s poorest regions access to safe water, it also helps prevent waste – and all of this is made possible by solar energy!

5) The MRV100 Hybrid Food Cart

Solar Food Carts

New York City has more than its fair share of food carts (over 3000 licensed vendors, in fact), and their delicious offerings have helped countless businesspeople, workers, and tourists push through their busy days… But how healthy is it to have a city full of gas-fired cooking appliances emitting fumes at every street corner? Queens-based MOVE Systems has a solution: the solar-powered MRV100 Hybrid Food Cart! These revolutionary carts include solar panels for on-the-go charging, plus battery-powered electrical systems for days when the Sun just won’t cut it. Clean, healthy, and tasty – that’s what we’d call an ideal meal!

6) Solar-Powered Car Charging Station

Solar Car Charge Station

From the Tesla Model S to the Chevrolet Volt, electric and hybrid cars are all the rage these days. But just how sustainable can an electric car be if it needs to be charged with electricity that originates in coal or nuclear power plants? Fortunately, a San Francisco-based group called Charge Across Town has developed a solution to this conundrum: solar-powered car charging stations! These stations, manufactured by Envision Solar, feature a large solar panel up top and a small charge station underneath. Perhaps the most impressive part of these stations is that they don’t need to be connected to the grid, as the solar panel itself is the sole source of energy.

7) New Creation Stained-Glass Windows

New Creation Windows

The genius of plantlife is that its appendages are able to draw power from sunlight through the process of photosynthesis, and it has long been a dream of urban planners to design cities which could generate energy from the structures themselves in much the same way. Rooftop solar panels are great for that, no doubt about it – but what if solar energy could be captured by inherent architectural features as well? Enter Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel’s New Creation windows. What initially looks like stained-glass art is actually colourful dye-sensitized solar cells which can passively generate solar energy. A true thing of beauty!

8) The Cinch Tent

Cinch Tent

Inventor Jake Jackson is a major camping enthusiast who enjoyed everything about the great outdoors – except the hassle of setting up most tents! Thus was born the Cinch, an all-inclusive tent for the 21st century which he personally designed. This incredible invention offers waterproof protection from the elements, sleeps an entire family, can be set up in mere moments with pop-up technology, and – as this is a list about solar power, after all – it even incorporates an optional roof-mounted solar panel to help you charge your portable devices no matter how far from civilization you happen to go.

9) The Solar Bike

Solar Bike

Bicycles are one of the most eco-friendly modes of transportation available, but sometimes motorized transport really is more convenient, especially for those who have to commute over long distances or hilly terrain. This new invention, simply dubbed the Solar Bike, aims to fill that much-needed niche by using large solar panels on the wheel spokes to power a small electrical motor. With a top speed of 25-50 km/h and a built-in pedal assist option, the Solar Bike is a great way to get around sustainably, whether you’re looking to cycle your way to work each morning or simply enjoy a leisurely bike trip on the weekend.

10) Solar Impulse 2

2015_04_01_Solar_Impulse_2_RTW_Solar_Panels_Solar_Impulse_2_revillard-_11

Sometimes the best way to usher in a technological revolution is by taking a bold step forward and making a spectacle out of it; that was the idea that made the Wright Brothers the first men to fly back in 1903, and it’s also the idea that’s propelling the Solar Impulse 2 across the world… Well, that and solar power! You see, this ingenious aircraft design features a stunning 17,000 solar cells spread across its wings and fuselage, all connected to 4 electric engines.

The end result? An aircraft powered totally by solar power, which aims to be the first such vehicle to circle the globe. Its journey began in Abu Dhabi on March 9th, and is expected to conclude sometime in the middle of summer. Once this milestone is broken, there will be no looking back for solar-powered aircraft!

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