Published On: Sun, Nov 20th, 2011

Meet 13 year old solar panel developer

 

meet 13-year old solar panel developer

Meet 13-year old

solar panel

developer

Nathan Batalion, Global Health Activist, Healingtalks Editor

(Healingtalks) Can you imagine climbing up a limb of a tree and seeing the mathematical Fibonacci Sequence in its branches, and then using that insight to develop far more efficient solar panel arrays?
Aidan Dwyercan.

Tree-like solar arrays

He’s the 13-year-old genius from Long Island, New York who was a recent presenter at the PopTech conference, where he presented the idea. His solar panel configurations are 20-50% more efficient than traditional solar arrays, especially in low-light conditions or cloudy days in winter or shady spots.  “My design is like a tree,” he said, “but instead of having leaves it has solar panels at the ends.”

Award-winning solar invention

Dwyer created a prototype for a science fair with his granddad’s assistance. He ordered the panels online. His efforts won hime the Young Naturalist award this year from the American Museum of Natural History. (You can see a photo of the solar-panel prototype on that museum’s website).

13 year old solar panel developer 3

Dwyer’s inspiration from organic nature

This idea for this energy-saving project hit Dwyer on a walk through the woods. “One day…walking through the woods – well, on a winter hiking trip – and I noticed that the tree branches collect sunlight by going up into the air. And I thought: ‘Maybe if we put solar panels on the ends of the branches it would collect a lot of sunlight.’”

He also noted that the tree branches spiral up the trunk in a way that mimics the mathematical Fibonacci Sequence. The sequence was an invention of a medieval mathematician, Fibonacci, and he played with this mathematical sequence to how fast rabbits could reproduce,  like 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on. Dwyer noted, in a CNN interview that “The fraction for an oak tree is 2:5, which means five branches spiral around the trunk two times to reach the same starting point. So, if you start out at 75 degrees, and you get five branches to 4go around the trunk twice, then you’ll be back at 75 degrees.”

Dwyer added that he was ” trying to see if the tree design could collect more sunlight… But I also measured open-current voltage and it collected 20% more (than flat-panel solar arrays). ” The panels also collected 50% more light in low-light conditions than flat-panel arrangements.

An invention to change the world?

Who knows if Dwyer’s tree-based solar panels really will change the world – but how cool that a 13-year-old has come up with this idea. At PopTech, he stated, it was “pretty lonely being the youngest one … I don’t know how to start a conversation with an adult yet – so I just have to wait for them to ask me questions, and all that. They just come up to me and go ‘You’re that kid!’

Inspiring youth leadership making solar energy advances

Dwyer is not alone in such an achievement. Recently another 13-year-old, William Yuan, accepted a $25,000 fellowship from the Davidson Institute when he won an award for designing a new, more efficient solar cell — a project he undertook at Meadow Park Middle School in Oregon.
It is greatly inspiring to see our youth paving the way for a future with more efficient and cleaner energy resources.

 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Not a really bad idea but also first see “Golden Book of Mathematics – page 31 – Irving Adler, 1962″!

    Did he reference this (or any other) texts for his work (there are many to chose from)? So, what happened to “scholarship” as part of the measure of academic success? Will everyone in the future be allowed to just re-invent science?

    Anyway, this is nothing compared to the 2004 Siemens Science Competition!!! Now THAT was a really bad job by the media, especially ABC News that got completely suckered by it (so much so, that they have not reported on this particular competition again!).

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