Solar energy is an old concept but the technology used in generating power from the sun still isn’t perfect. Today, most solar panels can only convert 20% of energy from the sun. But with Eden Full’s invention called the SunSaluter, energy conversion from solar panels in the future can go as high as 40%.
The SunSaluter is an inexpensive device that tracks the sun’s movements using only a few bottles of water and a filter. It doesn’t need pumps or steam generators in order to work, parts that are usually manufactured by big engineering firms like Sulzer — a maintenance provider that is in partnership with several Middle-east based companies. The concept of the SunSaluter is that as the water-filled bottles drip through a filter, they become lighter and adjusts the panel over the course of the day.
“The way I approach design is to develop the simplest solution possible, something that someone of any educational background, even if you didn’t finish elementary school, can use,” Full explained.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) also managed to improve the current solar panels’ technology a few months back. The UNSW researchers’ solar panel fix prototype can also convert more than 40% energy from the sun but its custom optical bandpass filters are more complex and expensive to use compared to the SunSaluter.
Because of her invention, Full got a Thiel Fellowship award, which is a $100,000 grant given by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel to promising students.
SunSaluter isn’t Full’s first big achievement. She has been on Forbes’ 30 Under 30: Energy list for 3 years now, and was able to create a solar-powered toy car at the tender age of 3.
Full’s decision to become an engineer/inventor was caused by the negative impact of the oil and gas industry to fauna. She remembers seeing the suffering of polar bears first hand due to climate change, and that scene encouraged her to become the savior of the voiceless.
“It motivated me to pursue a better solution,” said Full.