Harnessing Plant Molecules to Harvest Solar Energy

ROCKVILLE, MD – Our current solar panels aren’t very efficient; they are only able to convert up to about 20 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity. As a result, to generate a lot of electricity, the panels require a lot of space—sometimes leading forests to be cut down or farms to be replaced by solar.

Materials developed at Sandia help extinguish solar panel fires before they ignite

Sandia National Laboratories has spent 10 years working alongside local company Guardian Sensors Inc. to understand and characterize hazardous arc-faults. Their work led to development of electrical in-line connectors that automatically predict and prevent photovoltaic arc-faults before they can ignite fires.

E-waste eating protein creates rare earth elements

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers, in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL), have designed a new process, based on a naturally occurring protein, that could extract and purify rare earth elements (REE) from low-grade sources. It could offer a new avenue toward a more diversified and sustainable REE sector for the United States. The protein, lanmodulin, enables a one-step extraction and purification of (REE)s from complex metal mixtures, including electronic waste and coal byproducts.