Finding alternative energy sources is one of the greatest challenge humanity has to face. The sun is a great source of energy, but we had to find efficient ways to use it. One method are the classical photovoltaic solar panels, but they are pretty expensive and don't have a long life. We thought that we could try to find a better solution, without using the photovoltaic effect.
Our prototype is based on the thermoelectric effect. We concentrate the solar radiation on one face of a thermoelectric Seebeck module that generates a voltage this way.
In order to realize the concentration of the solar rays on one face of the module, we are using a Fresnel lens. This device is more compact and also cheaper than a classical biconvex lens, making it more viable for our project.
A fixed solar panel has a maximum efficiency only when the solar rays are normal to it's surface, so we decided to create an auto-orientation system.
Our first prototype was created in a cardboard box and used 2 stepper motors for reorientation. It also had a system of photoresistors that measured luminosity for outside feedback.
After we demonstrated that our principle works, we improved our device by creating a better case from plexiglas and metal. We have also changed the steppers with 2 servo-motors and, using a 3D printer we phave placed the photoresisitors in the same place on the panels case.