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biological solar tracker

Using the power of the leaves to move your collectors.
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One of the difficulties of solar power is that it wastes energy powering motors and such to arrange the panels to focus on the suns rays. The difficulty could be overcome on a very small scale by attaching the panel to the middle of a plant's leaves which will follow the sun's movements throughout the day.

To start I would use something like the elephant ear plant that has leaves up to 3 feet across. This leaf also has a strong spine down the center. If you placed a panel that is 1/3 the width and 3/4 the length you might be able to develop a few extra watts of power. As new leaves mature you can add more panels to them. This plant usually is found in tropical environments so it should be strong enough to handle the increased heat that would be created.

The panel could be on one of the new thin film panels that can create 1.6watts of power in 56 sq. in. (9.5x5.9in) space that weighs .9 oz.

Not much power but it would add to both greenery and style while at the same time using the plant's natural efficiencies.

hypergiaphobia, Mar 04 2008

elephant leaf http://landscaping....p/elephant_ears.htm
[hypergiaphobia, Mar 04 2008]

thin film pv http://www.bigfrogm...lmsolarproducts.htm
[hypergiaphobia, Mar 04 2008]


       Is there some way you could just use the plants as self-adjusting solar reflectors, rather than sticking the panels on them? (Reflective things are cheaper than solar things.)
jutta, Mar 04 2008

       there is no way of really knowing the angle so you couldn't reliably put a collector anywhere that it wouldn't have to move.
hypergiaphobia, Mar 05 2008

       I'm pretty sure leaves don't track the sun but flowers do. I could be wrong but everything green in my garden suggests I'm not.
marklar, Mar 05 2008

       It's the stem of the plant that bends towards the sun, isn't it?   

       Perhaps you could leave the leaves alone and just pop a panel on the top of the plant.
mylodon, Mar 05 2008

       // I could be wrong but everything green in my garden suggests I'm not //   

       Do not listen to the Voices, [marklar], DO NOT LISTEN. They will tell you to do Bad Things.   

       If your plants are talking to you, you should get help (or possibly a scythe).
8th of 7, Mar 05 2008

       LOL, [8th], LOL out loud.   

       Yes, the leaves of some plants track the sun. Morning glory leaves do. Not sure about the elephant ear, though.   

       (Aside: I saw an elephants ear plant in Sri Lanka, with huge snails the size of a fist, and squirrel-like things not much bigger than a mouse. The juxtaposition of scales was very weird and cool.)
spidermother, Jul 06 2011


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