To combat pollution, habitat degradation, and waste of limited resources, scientists and environmental activists advocate for renewable energy – cleaner, inexhaustible forms of power. While there are numerous positives to this energy type, it is more expensive, more intermittent, and less efficient than readily available fossil fuels. For example, solar panels are only 15-21% efficient on average. One solution, the solar concentrator, uses reflective properties of glass to concentrate light towards a solar cell. This project investigates the integration of biofluorescent bacteria into concentrator photovoltaics, using visible light produced by these bacteria as an additional source of photons for solar cells. The purpose was to test how much this biofluorescent bacteria-based solar concentrator can enhance the power output of photovoltaic cells. The experiment consisted of 10 trials containing control glass concentrators and concentrators with biofluorescent E. coli, for a total of 1.5 hours under simulated light conditions and 1.5 hours in the dark. The power (wattage) of each recording was calculated at 15-minute test intervals and used to compare the control and bacteria-applied solar cells. On average, application of biofluorescent bacteria resulted in a power output increase of 61.46% in the light simulation and 273.6% in the dark. These findings suggest that the enhancement of photovoltaic cell performance using biofluorescent bacteria on a solar concentrator can allow for greater amounts of energy to be output by real-world solar panels.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Ms. Smiti Gandhi, Mr. Andrew Liu