by Beth Buczynski, 12/20/13
In 2012, Inhabitat featured an invention that promised to turn the world of solar power generation upside down. Rawlemon‘s spherical solar energy-generating globe looked a lot like a giant glass marble on a robotic steel frame, but there was nothing raw about what it achieved: the sun-tracking device was capable of concentrating sunlight (and moonlight) up to 10,000 times–making it 35 percent more efficient than traditional dual-axis photovoltaic designs. Bolstered by the incredible enthusiasm for their first design, the scientists at Rawlemon are back with an updated version–behold the Betaray!
André Broessel, a German architect involved with Rawlemon, told Inhabitat in an email that “…our first prototype, the Micro-track, was studied in the german laboratory Zentrum für Sonnenenergie-und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg and the results are more than optimistic.”
The initial globe design harvested up to 70% more solar energy than photovoltaic panels by using dual axis tracking. The sphere can be used to harvest sunlight for electricity or thermal energy, it can be fully integrated into the walls or ceilings of a building, and it suffers no weather impact. And, because it’s basically just a big crystal ball, it guarantees at least 99 percent transparency.
The solar sphere was a finalist in the World Technology Network Award 2013, which gave the Rawlemon team motivation to keep investigating, and now they’ve produced a second iteration, the Betaray, that’s even more polished than the last. The Betaray is designed to concentrate diffuse light and generate a powerful beam of solar energy. The Betaray can harness solar energy from the sun, the moon, or even the gray sky of a cloudy day, whereas conventional PV collectors need 4 times more incoming light before they start producing power.