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Underwater PV?

Discussion in 'Photovoltaics' started by Yesiree, Apr 13, 2004.

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  1. Yesiree

    Yesiree Guest

    As I am relatively new to the subject I beg your tolerance.

    I am looking at developing a small underwater vehicle that runs under its
    own steam as such and wondered about PV efficiencies underwater.

    I know that the atmosphere and other "obstructions" (clouds, pollution etc)
    are all factors and I guess my question is "Am I barking up the wrong tree
    attempting to use PV for an underwater vessel?"

    Your comments and contributions are invited.

    This gives a basic introduction to the concept of underwater light. You
    can see from their charts that the two biggest factors are depth and
    turbiditiy. So, how effective solar power will be on your sub will
    depend on how deep it will be and how much stuff is in the water.

    You should be aware that even at the surface solar PV panels won't give
    you a lot of power in a small footprint. Many people have covered their
    boats with PV cells and, while it works, it doesn't provide enough power
    for sustained cruising at high speed. If you're thinking of building a
    real Ahab then you should know it was pure fiction and you likely won't
    be happy with it's performance.

  3. Ecnerwal

    Ecnerwal Guest

    Probably. The atmosphere, pollution, etc, are hardly significant factors
    for this application. Water absorbs light rather quickly. If your power
    requirements are small and your vehicle is operating quite near the
    surface, it might work out, but even 33 feet /10 meters down you've lost
    a great deal of light, and shifted a long way towards blue (which most
    solar panels don't process all that well). At 100 feet/30 meters, it's
    dim (on a bright sunny day, with good water claity), and by roughly 600
    feet it's dark all the time.

    If the thing can operate cyclically, perhaps it could come to/very near
    the surface during daylight to charge, and then work at whatever depth
    it needs to work.

    Batteries with surface recharging and nuclear power are the two options
    that are most common for this application.
  4. How far underwater, and what kind of water? Light intensity (and
    colors, reds go first) drop off pretty quickly in sea water...
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