Solar power may be one of the cleanest energy sources, but one way of producing solar cells is actually quite toxic. A new study points to a safer and cheaper method, using an ingredient that is also used to make tofu.
Researchers at thediscovered that a salt used to produce the fermented bean curd, as well as to de-ice roads, could be a new ingredient in making solar power cleaner and less expensive.
That ingredient is magnesium chloride, a non-toxic alternative to cadmium chloride, which is a key component in the process used to make thin-film solar panels. While cadmium chloride works well, it is both highly toxic and expensive.
"If renewable energy is going to compete with fossil fuels, then the cost has to come down. Great strides have already been made, but the findings in this paper have the potential to reduce costs further," study author and University of Liverpool physicist Jon Major said in a news release.
"Cadmium chloride is toxic, and expensive and we no longer need to use it," he added. "Replacing it with a naturally occurring substance could save the industry a vast amount of money and reduce the overall cost for generating power from solar."
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