UH Moment: "Storm Cell"

Nano technology may focus on the very small, but it has very big ideas.

Hurricane Ike battered Galveston and Houston, leveling houses, snapping trees and power lines.  From the subsequent days and weeks without electricity and fuel came new ideas.

"The sun isn't going away anytime soon. Having something based on solar means you have reliable power that's going to be there for a very long time."  

Physics Professor Shay CurranPhysics professor Shay Curran directs the University of Houston Institute for Nano Energy.  His new portable, solar-paneled generator, or Storm Cell, developed by his team, is equipped with a unique nano coating specifically for solar panels.  The coating repels dust, dirt and water so the solar panels more efficiently absorb energy from the sun.

"The nice thing about having a solar generator is that the solar panels will last you  20-35 years,"  he said. "It's a legacy system as opposed to something you have for a couple of years and then throw it away."  

Curran says the solar-powered Storm Cell will power a refrigerator, electronics or fans  24-hours a day. The nano coating will have practical uses for other materials as well, such as building materials.  It is now moving from the lab into the marketplace, and is now licensed to energy company C-Voltaic.

"This product is a nano technology-based product that will be used in everyday life.  It is a cheaper, easier material that what is currently available," Curran said. "It has to be practical. It has to be cheaper and it has to do things other products don't do."  

Nano technology is part of what's happening at the University of Houston.

The unique nano coating helps repel dust, dirt and water
The unique nano coating helps repel dust, dirt and water