The Ashes

Technology, Science and other news
May 10, 2009

MIT Lecturer Develops Solar Textiles, Redefines Curtain Function

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Filed under : General

If you’re one of those weird and sometimes gloomy people (like me) who get the urge to close the curtains on even the nicest of days, a new solar development will give us a new excuse to do it: It might help the environment and save us a few bucks.

Sheila Kennedy, a faculty member of MIT’s School of Design, has developed new solar textiles and used them to create the first sustainable, energy yielding curtains. The curtains were developed for a green-living exhibit at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, and the coolest thing about them is that they can produce up to 16,000 watt-hours of electricity (or about half of what’s needed to power up a house every day.)

Just like regular solar cell panels, the curtains absorb sunlight in the daytime and hold it in as needed. As currently designed, the ’soft panel’ curtains can cover walls or roofs, but they might be applicable in other forms. For example, the museum exhibit integrated the ’soft panels’ into the design of the skylight, and is also used as a wall separator.

Think about other environmental and creatively satirical ways in which you could use these solar rugs. For example, you could take out your old couch, cover it in ’solar wear,’ and put it on the roof. Is that a terribly kitschy decoration for a tired Santa, or an innovative earth-saving gadget? You be the judge.

According to the developers, this textile OPV (organic photovoltaic) system is still not as competent as the best flat, solar panel technologies out there, but will be improved in the next few years.

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