A year ago, Charles Epstein called a company to come and change all the light bulbs in his Cromwell home. Workers caulked his drafty windows and sealed leaky door jams. It helped, but only so much. Epstein, in his late 60s, kept in the back of his mind that solar panels could be his next move.
Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.
Tucked away in the suburbs of Boston is Greentown Labs, a clean-tech incubator and shared work space that has grown from just three companies to nearly fifty promoting sustainable and clean energy solutions. Among these is a start-up called Altaeros Energies, which is pushing the boundaries of conventional wind power.