A slew of products are drawing attention precisely because of the way they utilise solar energy for contemporary purposes, such as charging the cell phone.
Of late, more and more products are being invented that utilise and harvest solar energy for multiple purposes. Whilst solar energy has been harvested before for uses such as heating and cooking, these products channel this energy to fuel devices and objects that are more contemporary in their usage.
Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel has designed two such products. The Current Table designed by Aubel is a desk that works as a workstation and produces energy from natural light, which it then uses to charge small devices.
Its orange-coloured, glass top writing surface consists of a solar panel. Interestingly, its process of transferring energy to recharge gadgets is quite similar to photosynthesis. There is a dye-synthesised solar cell inside the glass panels. This solar cell makes use of the properties of colour to generate an electrical current – quite mimicking the process in which plants use green chlorophyll to convert natural sunlight into energy.
As a process, The Current Table works when small particles of titanium dioxide are placed on a piece of transparent glass which is then dyed orange. Sunlight is absorbed efficiently due to this technique of dyeing.
The table comes with two USB charging points that can be used to recharge cell phones and tablets. Thus, users can utilise the table for writing emails or reading books and simultaneously charge their laptops, phones and tabs.
Another of Aubel’s creations that harvests solar energy is the Current Window. The process is similar to The Current Table: the window is made from coloured solar cells that convert sunlight into electrical energy, enabling the charging of devices. The dye-sensitised solar cells are arranged in a zigzag pattern, a design that has been created by Aubel and graphic designer Marine Duroselle.
Similarly in this product, minute particles of titanium dioxide are covered with light-absorbing dyes. In the Current Window, the solar cells are placed between two panes of toughened glass and connected to a battery lying within a frame that has USB charging points.
The orange, pink and blue cells in the Current Window have varying wavelengths and therefore generate different energy levels. Onto the ledge of the windows USB ports are fused, so that the ledge provides a snug place for a small device such as a cell phone to charge.
There are a set of lit-up diagonal stripes near the charging point which indicate the amount of power stocked up in the battery. Depending upon the quality of the light and the season, the Current Window can generate up to 25 watts in a day.
The products delineated above formulate a part of the continuously growing line of products that seek to depend upon the abundance of the sun’s power in order to be self-sufficient and energy efficient. Given the current global energy crisis on the one hand and the promise of sustainability and environment friendliness offered by products such as these on the other, products that run on the sun’s energy are bound to be developed in large numbers in the near and distant future.
Text by Tasneem S. Pocketwala