Regolith – making solar cells from lunar dirt.

The idea of utilizing resources from the Moon has been a topic of discussion for decades. One of the primary resources on the Moon is the lunar regolith, a layer of loose material on the surface of the Moon that is composed of various elements and minerals. Among these minerals are silicon and oxygen, which are crucial for the production of solar cells. Therefore, the possibility of making solar cells from lunar dirt is an exciting prospect that could lead to sustainable energy sources and space exploration advancements.

The process of making solar cells from lunar dirt begins with extracting the regolith from the Moon’s surface. The regolith is then refined to extract the necessary materials for solar cell production, such as silicon and oxygen. Silicon is the most crucial element, as it is the primary material used in the production of solar cells. Oxygen is also essential as it is used to create a silicon dioxide layer on the surface of the solar cell, which serves as a protective layer.

Once the necessary materials are extracted, the next step is to purify and process them to create a high-quality silicon wafer. This process involves melting the silicon and then cooling it to create a large cylindrical ingot. The ingot is then sliced into thin wafers, which are then polished to create a smooth surface. The wafers are then coated with a layer of silicon dioxide and a conductive layer of metal, such as aluminum or copper.

The final step in the process is to assemble the solar cells into solar panels. Solar panels consist of many individual solar cells that are wired together to create a larger system. Once assembled, the solar panels can be used to generate electricity in space or transported back to Earth for use in terrestrial applications.

The benefits of using lunar regolith to create solar cells are numerous. First and foremost, it could lead to sustainable energy sources for space exploration missions. Solar power is a clean and renewable source of energy that could potentially replace traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels. Second, the process of making solar cells from lunar regolith could lead to advancements in space exploration and resource utilization. By utilizing resources from the Moon, we could potentially reduce the cost of space exploration and increase the feasibility of long-term space missions.

However, there are also challenges associated with making solar cells from lunar dirt. The process of extracting and processing regolith is complex and requires specialized equipment and expertise. Furthermore, the transport of regolith from the Moon to Earth is also a challenging endeavor that requires significant resources and infrastructure.

In conclusion, the possibility of making solar cells from lunar dirt is an exciting prospect that could lead to significant advancements in sustainable energy sources and space exploration. While there are challenges associated with this process, the potential benefits are significant, and it is an area of research that should continue to be explored.

About Regolith

Regolith is a term used to describe the layer of loose, unconsolidated material that covers the surface of many celestial bodies, including the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. This layer is created over time as meteoroids impact the surface, breaking up and fragmenting the underlying bedrock. While regolith is an abundant material in the Solar System, it is often overlooked and considered a nuisance, but recent research has shown that regolith could be a valuable resource for future space exploration and settlement.

The regolith on the Moon, for example, is composed of a variety of materials, including rock fragments, dust, and small glass beads. It is also rich in elements such as iron, silicon, aluminum, and titanium, which are commonly used in many industrial processes on Earth. In addition, the Moon’s regolith contains water, which could be used to support future human missions and settlements on the lunar surface.

One of the most promising uses of regolith is in the construction of structures and habitats on other planets and moons. Regolith can be used as a building material by mixing it with a binding agent, such as epoxy or cement, to create a strong and durable material known as “lunarcrete.” This material could be used to build landing pads, roads, and even habitats that could shield astronauts from radiation and other hazards on the lunar surface.

Regolith could also be used to produce oxygen and other gases, which are essential for human survival in space. By heating regolith, the oxygen trapped within the material could be released and used for breathing, as well as in rocket propulsion systems. This process, known as “in-situ resource utilization,” could significantly reduce the cost and complexity of future space missions, as it would eliminate the need to transport large quantities of oxygen from Earth.

Another potential use for regolith is in the production of solar cells. As we discussed in a previous article, regolith on the Moon is rich in elements such as silicon and oxygen, which are crucial for the production of solar cells. By extracting and processing these materials from the regolith, it may be possible to produce solar cells on the Moon, which could provide a sustainable source of energy for future lunar missions and settlements.

While the use of regolith as a resource for space exploration and settlement is still in its early stages, the potential benefits are significant. By utilizing the resources available on other planets and moons, we could reduce the cost and complexity of space missions and pave the way for sustainable human settlements in space. As we continue to explore the Solar System, regolith will undoubtedly play a crucial role in enabling humanity to reach new frontiers and expand our understanding of the universe.

Read More Solar News:

Silent 55 – Solar Powered Catamaran

The Silent 55 solar powered catamaran has been announced and will debut at the 2019 Cannes Yachting Festival. The 2019 model is twice as powerful as the 2018 model with the Austrian manufacturer advising that one has already been build and 3 more are on order.

Silent 55 – Solar Powered Catamaran

“Our best-selling 16.7m innovative solar electric catamaran has been upgraded and become even better than it used to be,” says Michael Köhler, Silent-Yachts founder and CEO. “We did these updates and changes because we always try to improve and to install the best and latest technology available to satisfy our clients. We have built one new Silent 55 already and we’ve got three more orders for this model, which shows that we’re heading in the right direction.”

The Silent 55 includes 30 high-efficiency solar panels rated for approximately 10 kilowatt-peak. The catamaran uses MPPT (maximum power point tracking ) solar charge regulators and lithium batteries, allowing it to cruise through all the way through the evening (i.e. when the sun’s not shining) as well. 

A 15-kVA inverter provides the required power for household appliances. The electrical system also powers an aft swim platform and a 1,500-watt electric windlass. There is also a generator on board in case you run out of solar power. 

According to Robb Report the base price of the Silent 55 is €1.4m. Interested? Go check it out at the Cannes Yachting Festival or click here to learn more about the solar catamaran on the Silent Yachts website. And take me for a spin, please! 

Silent 55 Specifications

Length overall 16,70 m (54.8‘)
Beam overall 8,46 (27.7‘)
Draft 1,20 m (3.9‘)
Light displacement 19 tons
Water 500 – 1.000 L
Waste-Water 2 x 500 L
Fuel 500 – 1.600 L
Solar Panels 10 kWp
E-Motors 2 x 30 kW / 2 x 250 kW
Generator 22 kW / 100 kW
Battery Capacity 120 kWh
Cruising Speed 6 – 8 kt / 12 – 15 kt
Top Speed approx. 12 kt / 20 kt
CE Certification CE-A
Range Trans-Ocean


Silent 55 the Solar Powered Catamaran (source: via Silent-Yachts)
Silent 55 the Solar Powered Catamaran (source: via Silent-Yachts)

Read More Solar News:

Doping Solar Cells | Perovskite Tech Upgrade!

Doping solar cells – Swinburne University have been making big improvements on their research in upgrading efficiency of perovskite solar cells. Let’s read more.

Doping Solar Cells | Perovskite Tech Upgrade!

Swinburne University have been working in conjunction with Wuhan University of Technology in China, the University of Melbourne, and the University of Adelaide. Their research is to do with ‘doping solar cells’ – using sunlight as a ‘healing process’ to improve cell efficiency and stability. ‘Doping’ perovskite solar cells with potassium is having a big effect on increasing stability and efficiency of the solar cells. 

We’ve written extensively about the potential that perovskite solar cells could have – potentially overcoming Shockley–Queisser limit (33.7% at 1.34 eV) means that the theoretical conversion limit silicon based solar cells has could be improved upon.

As per Wikipedia, Perovskite tech has been moving along in leaps and bounds over the past 5 years:

Solar cell efficiencies of devices using these materials have increased from 3.8% in 2009[3] to 24.2% in 2019 in single-junction architectures,[4] and, in silicon-based tandem cells, to 28.0%,[4] exceeding the maximum efficiency achieved in single-junction silicon solar cells.

With the potassium ‘doping’, the sunlight starts to repair ‘interface traps’:

“Sunlight becomes a trigger for the positive formation of potassium bromide-like compounds, eliminating the interface traps and stabilising the mobile ions, thus resulting in improved power conversion efficiency,” Dr Weijian Chen, an early career researcher at Swinburne, noted in comments on the Swinburne website.

“This research contributes to the rationalisation of the improved performance and guides future design protocol of better solar cells.” Dr Xiaoming Wen, senior research fellow at Swinburne continued.

“The demonstrated solar cell characterisation methods are at the cutting edge, and will help our industry partners develop a new protocol for commercial perovskite solar cells.” Director of Swinburne’s newly founded Centre of Translational Atomaterials (CTAM), Professor Baohua Jia said about the technology.

If you’d like to read more, the research, funded by the Australian Research Council under the Discovery Project program, has been published in Advanced Energy Materials.


Read More Solar News:

Solar glass shopping centre – Vicinity Centres/ClearVue.

Australia’s largest retail landlord, Vicinity Centres, has partnered with innovative solar glass company ClearVue Technology to install transparent solar panels (solar glass) to help their shopping centre’s environmental footprint and potentially save money on energy.

Solar Glass – Vicinity Centres partner with ClearVue 

We’ve written about ClearVue Technology quite a few times on this website, from their solar bus shelters to commercial solar windows, the company have been working hard bringing their integrated clear glass solar panel to market in Australia and overseas.

The company have now partnered with Vicinity Centres to install solar glass in its Warwick Grove shopping centre atrium entry. The solar glass atrium has 26 solar cells inbuilt, which generate up to 1MW. It also works as insulation – with materials inside the window deflecting energy to small PV cells at the edge of the screen. This solar window tech is something we’ve been very excited about for a long time so it it’s amazing to watch it enjoying some real world application! 

According to ClearVue, this is the first commercial installation of fully transparent solar cell glass in the entire world. The solar atrium will power lighting, outside signage, a digital display screen within the centre, and it’ll send any excess energy to battery storage at night. So it’s a pretty far cry from actually powering the shopping centre, but that’s not really the point right now. 

“While other products exist, these are typically optically distorted or coloured, or they are not yet commercially available and are still in the research and pre-commercialisation stages,” a ClearVue spokesman said in quotes to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Solar Glass - Vicinity and ClearVue Technologies (source:
Solar Glass – Vicinity and ClearVue Technologies (source:

The Vicinity Centres general manager for shopping centre management, Justin Mills, was also very excited about the new installation:

“(the solar atrium) reinvents the way we harvest renewable energy, reduces our exposure to the volatile energy market and our carbon footprint – a key focus for Vicinity.

“We’re excited to be trialling such innovative, leading-edge technology and embarking on a global-first in solar energy application.” he continued.

If you’d like to read more about solar power installed at shopping centres, take a look at the Stockland Solar Power Rollout – which will see 12.3MW installed across 10 shopping centres in Australia.

You can also read about Vicinity Centres’ solar project – which is the investment of $28m to install 11.2MW of solar power in five shopping centres.

According to Smallcaps, ClearVue Technologies have also signed a a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Grafsol General Trading for exclusive distribution rights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. 

“This MoU represents a great opportunity for ClearVue to break into the Middle Eastern region,” said Victor Rosenberg, executive chairman of ClearVue Technologies.

We’ll report more about ClearVue in the middle east next week! 

Have a great weekend.

Read More Solar News:

Recycling Solar Panels | What to do with old solar panels.

Recycling solar panels is a topic which will be a lot more prevalent as the initial ‘wave’ panels begin to reach their end of life. Let’s take a look at what the plans are for trying to minimise the environmental impact and maximise the value  of a used solar panel.

Recycling Solar Panels | Will there be a waste crisis for old panels?

Australia has one of the highest PV solar uptakes in the world. There are plenty of us who have had solar installed for a long time. So long, in fact, that people are talking about end of life strategies to dispose of/ repurpose solar panels, so that they don’t cause a problem for the environment. 

Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel has been crusading for the implementation of such strategies for solar panels, calling it a ‘systemic problem’:

“We’ve had a solar panel industry for years which is an important environmental initiative, and it should have been incumbent on government to act in concert with the growth of the industry so we have an environmentally responsible end-of-life strategy,” he said in a quote to the Sydney Morning Herald.

We’ve written previously about solar panel recycling and, although it’s good to see things like the ELSi project in Germany, there’s still a ways to go before we figure out the best way forward to recycle solar waste.

Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels
Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels (source:

According to the director of Reclaim PV (the only dedicated photovoltaic recycler in Australia), Clive Fleming, they company recycles 90 per cent of materials in a panel. The company has been lobbying for state bans on landfill disposal of solar panels. 

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Peter Schmigel also had a quote in the SMH about how a proper plan for recycling PV cells could have a positive effect on the economy:

“Recovery rates have been out of sight since the beginning of the scheme, nobody has said anything at all about there being an inbuilt recycling cost. It generates jobs, it generates environmental outcomes and yet for some reason we have policymakers who are hesitant about [establishing similar schemes] for solar PVs and batteries,” he said.

We expect over the coming year or two we’ll hear a lot more about this, with Sustainability Victoria working on a ‘national approach to photovoltaic product stewardship’, with their recommendations presented to the environment ministers around the middle of this year. 

Victoria have already announced they’ll ban electronic waste in landfill from July 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see if/how the other states follow suit.

Read More Solar News: