2006 - [Sustainable Concepts] Eco-Friendly Holidays and Thin-film
2006, vol. 45
Welcome to the December 2006 newsletter from Design Forward.
Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.
Quote of the Month: "Study nature, love nature, stay close
to nature. It will never fail you."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
Lisa A. Swan
Energy from the sun—available everywhere, for everybody—has
motivated research on solar-energy technologies for
about three decades. The U.S. Photovoltaic Industry
Roadmap, intended to guide companies in developing solar-energy
systems, takes a more prosaic but realistic view of
the next three decades. It aims for solar energy to
provide 10% of U.S. peak generation capacity and supply
a considerable share of foreign markets by 2030.
Most photovoltaic (PV) solar technologies rely on semiconductor-grade
crystalline-silicon wafers, which are expensive to produce
compared with energy from fossil fuel sources. However,
potentially less costly thin-film alternatives may make
major inroads in the world market in five years, suggests
Franz Karg, research manager at the Shell Solar facility
in Munich, Germany. Or maybe not. Thin-film solar panels
are hard to mass-produce cost-effectively because of
the difficulty of coating large areas of glass. “It
is my opinion that crystalline- silicon technologies
will dominate for at least the next 10 years,” says
Jeffrey Mazer of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
Office of Solar Energy Technologies (Washington, DC).
Thin-film alternatives to standard PV solar cells are
already available or in development. Amorphous silicon,
the most advanced of the thin-film technologies, has
been on the market for about 15 years. It is widely
used in pocket calculators, but it also powers some
private homes, buildings, and remote facilities. An
amorphoussilicon solar cell contains only about 1/300th
the amount of active material in a crystalline-silicon
cell. Amorphous silicon is deposited on an inexpensive
substrate such as glass, metal, or plastic, and the
challenge is to raise the stable efficiency. The best-stabilized
efficiencies achieved for amorphous-silicon solar panels
in the U.S. PV program are about 8%. The goal is to
produce a stable device with 10% efficiency. United
Solar Systems Corp. (Troy, MI) pioneered amorphous-
silicon solar cells and remains a major maker today.
Article © Ineke Malsch, The Industrial Physicist.
Picture © The Industrial Physicist.
for an Earth-Friendly Holiday Season
- Email or post online holiday cards or newsletters.
- If you want to send cards - Use recycled paper or
recycle paper products to make new cards.
- Purchase a live Christmas tree with roots and plant
it after the holidays.
- Be creative with you gift giving – give homemade
food items, recipes, memberships to an organization
or planting a tree in someone’s honor.
- When shopping for gifts, try the local farmer’s
market or good will for more eco-friendly, recycled
- When it comes time to wrap up your gifts, look to
the materials that you already have lying around –
old magazines and newspapers (especially the comic
pages), make colorful gift wrap.
- Wrap your gifts in items that have their own use
– try towels, pillowcases, dishcloths, sheets, scarves,
bowls, cloth bags, or purses.
- Donate leftover food to a local charity or food
- Compost your dinner scraps
- Decorate your home with plants of the season. Holly,
Mistletoe, fir sprigs, pine cones and poinsettias
make nice natural and biodegradable decorations.
Article © Lisa A. Swan.
Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable
Design. If you know of a project that should be featured,
please contact us. Let us know why you think it should
be featured and give us a basic intro to the project,
the sustainable elements and any websites or contact
If you would like to submit a fun and/or entertaining
quote about architecture, building, the environment
or such, send it in! If it at all possible, include
If you have any other feedback concerning this publication,
please feel free to send an email or use the form.
to top ]