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Scientists in the UK have been developing specially ‘conductive’ paints to be printed onto building materials, where they can then generate their own electricity from the sunlight they absorb.
If the project proves successful, it could mean that houses and offices built in the future will contribute to general energy supplies.
Researchers in Baglan, Wales, are using screen presses and roller coating techniques to cover building materials with the specially designed solar paints.
Customised chemical compounds are added in layers to sheets of glass, plastic and steel, which then absorb the power of the sun.
Senior Technology Transfer Fellow, Eifion Jewell, notes there are several distinct chemical compounds capable of making the difference:
“In its simplest form we can use carbon graphite – the type of thing you get in a pencil, because you can get a pencil to conduct electricity. But we might be putting other things such as silvers… so we can make an ink which is silver and when we dry it it’s conductive.”
By cladding buildings in these paints, researchers hope to revolutionise the renewable energy market.
Not only do they think they will create thousands of new jobs in the sector but that these paints will transform the way we see our cities, as everyday buildings – schools, supermarkets, churches – all become power stations in their own right.