Announcements
First Bio Cells
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Friday, March 23, 2012

First Bio Cells

First Bio-Solar Cells Coming off the Production Line

Paul McDonald

 

Product Description:

We are using the protein Photosystem I (PSI) as the working medium in bio-photovoltaic cells. PSI is located in the thylakoid membrane of plants that undergo photosynthesis and has good electron transfer capabilities when exposed to light. This protein is extracted from spinach for use in photovoltaic cells. Each cell consists of a 75 x 38 mm glass slide covered with nanoporous gold foil cathode. An acrylic spacer rests on the foil, creating a reservoir filled with a PSI multilayer and electrolyte solution. A polyethylene sheet covered in indium tin oxide (ITO) serves as the anode and is located above the PSI multilayer. Copper tape runs under the ITO and connects individual cells in series to form a circuit. Another glass slide caps the cell and is glued in place using waterproof adhesives. The desired final product is a 2’ x 2’ panel consisting of individual cells. These cells will be mounted on a silicon base to form the panel.

 

Production of this device has never been attempted. Successful generation of even small amounts of electricity would have far-reaching implications in the quest for cleaner energy. While electrical output will not hope to rival polysilicon-based photovoltaic cells, its manufacturing process may require significantly less electricity and, with further development, could eventually become a viable source of clean energy. Perhaps most importantly, this project serves to raise awareness open the doorway for other innovative and unique attempts at cleaner energy.

Solar Cell

Solar Cell 2

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

EPA Award Write-Up

VUSE Seniors working on a EPA-funded Bio-Inspired Solar Cell

Armed with a $15,000 award from the Environmental Protection Agency, six VUSE seniors under the guidance of Professors Kane Jennings (ChBE) and Amrutur Anilkumar (ME ) are working to build a Nature Inspired Large-Scale Solar Cell.  The students participating in this joint ChBE-ME senior design project are: Andrew Couch, Eric Dilbone, Philip Ingram, Trevan Locke, Paul McDonald and Jason Ogg.  Melinda Shearer a Chemistry junior is also assisting the team.

 

The project aims to construct a novel, large-scale biohybrid solar panel for power production from many individual photoelectrochemical cells that employ photosynthetic proteins as the active elements for light-harvesting and energy conversion.  ‘It is a proof of concept work, that is not ready for the market place, but has the power to inspire’, says Professor Anilkumar.  When EPA put out a call for proposal for student projects in the energy arena last spring, Dr. Anilkumar proposed the scale-up approach to Dr. Kane Jennings, whose has pioneered the work on bioinspired photocells by extracting a specific plant protein (Photosystem I) and depositing it in multilayer films on non-biological substrates.  VUSE students Matthew Irwin, Jordan Croom and Philip Irwin readily signed on to work on the fast-track proposal with the Professors.  Jordan Croom, and Matt Irwin, both currently pursuing graduate studies say: ‘This was an exciting proposal to work on, as the potential to extract usable power from a naturally-occurring, renewable material is intriguing from both engineering and societal perspectives. It’s quite interesting to realize that chlorophyll-containing proteins from spinach could conceivably charge a cell phone. Creating a bio-inspired solar panel is a great way to engage the public in thinking about novel methods of energy production—opportunities for innovation are really all around us’.

 

The senior designers propose to build modules with about 1000 of these centimeter-sized cells and use a quick connect method to build a 6ft x 6ft solar panel.  There are plans to field test the bio-inspired solar panel at the Vanderbilt-MWS Love Circle Alternative Energy Site.

 

‘The current solar energy conversion efficiencies of these cells are not comparable to silicon based devices but a project like this is a showcase project that aims to prove that a combination of nature and engineering may hold the keys to energy challenges’, says Professor Jennings.

The proposed bio-inspired solar panel that has received EPA funding

 

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Green Screen Film Series- The Last Mountain on September 21st

This semester be sure to check out AEC’s Green Screen film series, a FREE series featuring movies about energy and the environment.  The first movie will be The Last Mountain, a documentary about the devastating effects of mountain-top removal mining.  It will be shown in the Commons Multipurpose Room on September 21st at 7:00 PM.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

General Information Session Tuesday, August 30th at 7:00 PM in Buttrick 112

Come by Buttrick 112 this Tuesday night at 7:00 for a quick and informative meeting about AEC and all of the exciting events we have planned for this semester.  Hope to see you there!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meeting Tomorrow, IMPORTANT Dinner Seminar on Friday

Hey all,
First of all, I wanted to send out a quick reminder that we will be having our scheduling meeting over lunch tomorrow at 12:25 PM in Sarratt 325/327. The menu includes BBQ chicken pizza from Jet’s and lots of exciting planning for the semester!

Secondly, I want to formally announce that we will be hosting a seminar by Dr. Diane Austin of the University of Arizona this coming Friday at 3:10 PM in Jacobs Believed in Me Auditorium. This is going to be a major event open to the entire student body, so I would really appreciate it if you show your support for our club by attending! We will be providing both pizza AND dessert, so come hungry! I have attached a flyer that some of you all might have seen floating around; it describes in detail what the seminar will be all about. Please tell your friends about the event, too!

Okay, that’s all for now. Hope to see you all both tomorrow and Friday!

Matt Irwin

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