Apr 052012
 

Sunny day for mobiles and iPods

Daily News TV

5 April 2062

Yesterday saw the launch by the Minister for Climate Change, Winston Patel, of a new range of solar powered summer clothes, which includes the now compulsory large-brim sun hats. The range has been designed by leading stylists and voted for by viewers of the popular TV programme ‘Off with those clothes!’

Given a minimum of one hour in direct sunlight, the clothing can generate and store enough power to keep mobiles and iPods fully charged for up to a week. Solar clothing for children is also being launched and these will enable parents to follow their movements on a home screen via SatNav.

“An unexpected benefit of global warming is that we now enjoy Mediterranean type weather, and it has had the effect of encouraging parents to send their children out to play after school throughout most of the year, rather than spend their time in energy-consuming activities within the home”, said Patel.

The hats, shirts, shorts and dresses incorporate a new photovoltaic material which can even store surplus electricity to be downloaded onto home-based devices. The company behind the new clothes is based at the aptly-named Port Sunlight on Merseyside where its head of research, 30-year-old chemistry graduate Emma MacDonald, praised her fellow scientists for their work in making the new solar convertors entirely from organic chemicals and entirely free of metals.

Our science correspondent writes

Backpacks with solar panels attached first appeared 40 years ago but they relied on expensive metal-containing semiconductors including indium, stores of which are now almost exhausted since lead mining was banned in 2020. It was from this toxic and environmentally damaging metal that almost all the world’s indium was extracted.

The new solar photovoltaics use organic semiconductors, which were discovered in the UK. At first these had energy conversion efficiencies of only 2% but further research pushed this up to the 10% necessary for commercial exploitation, and more recent research in China has increased it to 25% and this is where the flexible panels are now manufactured for the world market. The wiring and energy storage cells built into the new clothes are also organic and made from carbon nanotubes.