When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Spain

Could A Glass Sphere Revolutionize Solar Power?

A German-Spanish startup has created technology it says is so effective turning light into energy that it can also utilize moonbeams and office building windows.

betaray
betaray

BARCELONA — Looking into a glass ball has always meant looking into the future, speculating, daring to be visionary. But André Brössel, the German-born head of a Barcelona-based start-up called Rawlemon, has given the term a whole other meaning.

His firm has developed futuristic solar collectors — collectors that look very different from the usual installations. They are not flat, right-angled panels, but spheres. The role of the glass balls turns out to be much the same as that of classic collectors: to turn light into electrical current.

Like large lenses, the transparent liquid-filled glass spheres collect rays of light. Depending on the diameter of the sphere, fire point increases up to 20,000 times. Photovoltaic cells and heat-driven mini-generators transform the energy into current.

The light concentration resulting from this principle is so effective that Rawlemon’s collectors don’t only work when the sun is shining, but when it’s cloudy and even at night.

Yes, after sundown, the balls can even gather moonlight and transform it into electrical energy.

[rebelmouse-image 27087810 alt="""" original_size="580x386" expand=1]

With regard to the solar panels presently in use in Germany, Rawlemon technology has two big advantages. For one, it delivers constant, efficient current because sunlight is bundled in the spheres. What’s more, they are designed to pivot so that the photovoltaic modules and thermal generators are always optimally aligned to the sun.

In a mere fourth of a square meter, prototypes are already creating as much current as traditional installations filling a square meter of space. In diffused light, this strength is particularly significant.

View from your window

The second advantage is that the Rawlemon solutions are real “lookers.” They are the top models in solar energy production. The glittering spheres in their elegant casings are a hit visually; and Brössel’s training as an architect and his high aesthetic standards play a key role in their popularity.

[rebelmouse-image 27087811 alt="""" original_size="580x386" expand=1]

But is the technology suitable for mass production?

Since it was founded three years ago, the start-up has made huge strides in getting the product ready for the mass market. "Beta.ey," the first serial product, is due out in September. It’s a hip solar charger equipped with a glass ball about the size of the ones used by fortune tellers, and it uses solar current to charge mobile phones.

The funding for all this is as innovative as the gadgets: Rawlemon, working via the Indiegogo website, uses crowdfunding.

Another application called "Beta.ray" is presently in the prototype stage. Including the mount and glass sphere the device is around two meters high and should provide enough solar energy to charge an electric car. When there is no car charging up, Beta.ray saves the energy in a large battery that acts as buffer.

But both these products are mere steps towards Brössel’s main aim: "I want to develop Rawlemon technology to the point that it can be built into large windows, for example in office buildings." With an efficiency factor of over 50% the elements would change incoming light into a hybrid of current and thermal energy.

"A building equipped like that would create more energy than it used," says Brössel. "Over and above that, three fourths of the sun’s rays would be collected so that the building could be cooled in a natural way, particularly in the summertime."

In four to five years, Rawlemon wants to start serial production of these facade elements. Looking into a glass ball would then replace the view out the window for many office workers.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ