Year 3, Month 1, Day 1: Happy New Year, Everybody!

The Chicago Sun-Times runs an article on Prashant Kamat’s solar paint.

A team of University of Notre Dame scientists say they’ve developed a “solar paint” that can inexpensively harness the sun’s power.

The “Sun-Believable” paint moves the silicon-based solar power industry into new territory by using nanoparticles that act as semiconductors to turn sunlight into power.

The Notre Dame team — whose findings appear in the journal ACS Nano — created its paint from tiny particles of titanium dioxide coated with one of two cadmium-based substances. That’s mixed with a water-alcohol mixture to create a paste. When the paste is brushed onto a transparent conducting material and exposed to light, it creates electricity.

The paint’s best light-to-energy conversion efficiency is just 1 percent. But its developers are working to boost that.

I had originally sent a letter to the paper in South Bend, IN — but they told me if I wasn’t a local, they wouldn’t publish it. So I wound up rewriting that letter for the Sun-Times. Sent December 28:

There is no “silver bullet” to halt the slow-motion disaster of global climate change. To handle such a multi-dimensional problem, our country must harness the innovation and creativity of its citizens. The solar paint recently announced by researchers at Notre Dame is an excellent example of what our tax dollars could be funding.

For decades, our contributions have supported the fossil fuel industry with substantial subsidies and tax breaks. Oil and coal were never cheap. We are just beginning to appreciate the health and environmental costs of a century’s worth of burned carbon — not to mention the elaborate and costly machinery of war.

By contrast, government support for projects like Professor Kamat’s paint would be a natural in a sustainability-focused economy. If my tax dollars went to build a new energy infrastructure and address the threat of climate chaos, I’d feel a whole lot happier every April 15.

Warren Senders

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