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Teen uses Fibonacci sequence to make solar energy breakthrough

  1. Aug 21, 2011 #1

    baywax

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    What do you think?

    http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youngnaturalistawards/2011/images/aidan_large_08.jpg

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/good...ibonacci-sequence-solar-energy-182220725.html
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2011 #2

    Hurkyl

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    The article is baffling.

    I don't mean in the sense that "how could a young kid make a breakthrough like this" -- I mean that the claims in the article don't actually seem to make sense at all. e.g. that that giant tree structure supposedly takes up less room than the flat panels.

    Have you been able to find anything on the issue other than media hype?
     
  4. Aug 21, 2011 #3

    cepheid

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    I have to admit that I don't get it. Surely all that matters is the total collecting area in all cases?

    I suppose this could have something to do with optimizing for the variation in irradiance throughout the day, but even then I would think that the best thing to do would be to keep tilting the array to maintain normal incidence.
     
  5. Aug 21, 2011 #4

    russ_watters

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    Well, certainly a panel angled more than is typical will capture more light in winter than a typical arrangement (but less in the summer....) and certainly if you stack panels on top of each other they will gather more light as a fraction of land area (as long as the sun isn't going to track vertically overhead), but do either of these actually compute to a net benefit? I'd be surprised.

    And I'd be very interested in seeing how the fibonacci sequence is actually applied here.
     
  6. Aug 21, 2011 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    Plants have done this for hundreds of millions of years. So I am not quite so sure what the breakthrough is, or why it's patentable.
     
  7. Aug 21, 2011 #6

    DaveC426913

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    Applying a method found in nature to a technology is what a breakthrough is. :grumpy:
     
  8. Aug 21, 2011 #7
    A 13 year-old kid discovering this makes me wonder what the hell the "experts" are doing...
     
  9. Aug 21, 2011 #8

    DaveC426913

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    I do think it's blown up a little by the media.

    There are many ways to increase the output of a solar array (the most obvious of which is to increase the surface area). But it's not as simple as raw output. Performance is weighed with many other factors, such as the fact that it's really easy to lay an array on the roof of a house - no costly superstructure, cheap installation, no eyesore, no maintenance problems, no collapses, failures, etc.

    There's a principle he's found here, true, and there will possibly be some specialized uses for this, but it's not like we've been doing it all wrong until he came along.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  10. Aug 21, 2011 #9

    cjl

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    I don't see how the article can possibly be correct. Surely the only thing that matters to solar energy collection is how long the panels are in the sunlight, and how direct the sunlight is. Solar tracking panels would be best, for obvious reasons, but in the case of static panels, a single optimal angle must exist for each location, and if every panel is pointed optimally, it should gather more energy than the tree (which has panels pointing in many directions). I would guess that optimal would be basically aligned parallel to earth's axis of rotation, such that the panel experiences sunlight as directly as possible. I would have to see a lot more data than provided in that article before concluding that this is actually any kind of a breakthrough.
     
  11. Aug 21, 2011 #10

    baywax

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    So far its all media hype, repeating the original story exponentially. No study, paper, nothing... as of late.
     
  12. Aug 21, 2011 #11

    DaveC426913

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    Not exponentially. Story n is simply the sum of story n-1 and n-2.

    :biggrin:
     
  13. Aug 21, 2011 #12

    Drakkith

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    I like this sentence from the article the best.

    If that looks nicer then someone needs to get their eyes checked.
     
  14. Aug 21, 2011 #13
    Sounds like a load of crap. I guess there really is no accountability in journalism these days.
     
  15. Aug 23, 2011 #14

    baywax

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    What I can figure out of this is that the array of panels would not completely block the sun from reaching the ground below them, as does happen with a bank of solar panels. Using this method there is perhaps the possibility that a "partially shaded" environment would be created by the "trees" of panels. This way, (again, perhaps) the soil under the solar array can be used for "partial shade" loving plants such as grasses for feed or others I am unaware of.
     
  16. Aug 24, 2011 #15

    DaveC426913

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    Yes, which can be done with any configuration just by spacing them out more - and taking up more room. That is not an advantage specific to this design.
     
  17. Aug 24, 2011 #16

    DaveC426913

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    Nothin'? Come on! That was clever!
     
  18. Aug 24, 2011 #17

    Drakkith

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    Heh, I just got it...
     
  19. Aug 24, 2011 #18
    That kid stole my work, I did it first. Patenting? I am suing this kid.
     
  20. Aug 24, 2011 #19
    Am I the only one who noticed there is more panels on the tree than on the house?
     
  21. Aug 24, 2011 #20
    What if story n is told to person p who tells story n+1^2 to person p+2 and p+3 who tells the story n+1^4 to persons p+4, p+5, p+6, and p+7.
     
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