In the recent past, the global governments have invested heavily in energy production due to the increase in demand. There have been environmental concerns with skeptics arguing that the process of producing energy is harmful to the environment. Besides, the consumption of energy has increased greatly over the past few decades thus necessitating the need to conserve the limited energy produced. The mentioned factors have been the driving forces for innovation in the energy production industry. Currently, the focus has shifted from the traditional production of energy, which majored on non-renewable sources, to renewable sources. Solar energy has specifically been identified as one of cleanest and cheapest sources of energy. This paper shall analyze three articles that explore the effective use of daylight during the production of energy.
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The article “Sun tracking system” by Eskiçirak, Akyol, and Karakaya describes the need to develop a more efficient and environment-friendly energy sources in the backdrop of the rising cost of energy and environmental concerns. The authors argue that the increased use of fuel in the production of energy is to blame for the climatic changes. The article highlights the sun, the wind, and the rain as the main sources of clean energy. The mentioned energy sources have not, however, been exploited by the energy producers. In substantiating the need for a reliable and clean source of energy, the article presents a sun tracking system with two axes (Eskiçirak, Akyol, and Karakaya 5). The system makes use of the sunlight to produce clean and inexpensive energy. The authors present the sun tracking system and demonstrate the effective use of the system. The authors break down the major elements of the system and propose a few improvements that could be made to the system to increase its efficiency. The most crucial elements of the system include “Two light dependent resistors (LDRs), 2x10K resistors, 2x10K potentiometers, BD 547 BC 557 transistors, 4x1N4004 diodes, and LM358 integrated circuit and DC motor” (Agrawal 121)
The article goes further to compare the system’s voltage using two comparators namely, LM358 and OPAMP as shown in the diagram below. In making the comparison, two resistors are placed on the LDR. The working concept of the system is that when the light intensity of the LDR increases, the resistance also decreases.
How the system works
The voltage comparator’s output increases when the non-inverting terminal’s voltage value exceeds the voltage rate at the inverting terminal. The system has the two inverting terminals of the comparators attached to a potentiometer to assess the reference voltage. The 10K pot can be easily altered in case the user needs to alter the working of the LDRs. If the light intensity increases on the left LDR, the voltage output of the comparator will also increase. When the output of the right comparator increases, both Q1 and Q4 turn to be the system’s switches. In the contrary, when the output in the left comparator increases, both the Q2 and the Q3 transistors turn to be the system’s switches. If the voltage at both comparators increases contemporaneously, both the Q3 and the Q4 transistors will turn, but there will e no current flow to the motor. Similarly, when the output of both comparators lessens, both the Q1 and the Q2 transistors will turn though no current will be flowing through the motor. The DC motor is connected to the panel in such a way that the panel shall rotate depending on the direction of the sunlight to facilitate maximum capture of the light.
The article “Day lighting by optical fiber” authored by André and Schade describe the effective use of optic fiber in the production of energy. The authors acknowledge the increasing demand for energy due to the rapid explosion in population growth. They propose the use of optic fiber as a solution to the high cost and the environmental concerns attributed to the current energy sources. The article exemplifies the importance of light in the production of energy due to its plenty of supply and reduced pollution.
The authors argue that fiber optic technology should replace the electrical lighting to stop the overreliance on fossil fuel. They argue that fiber optic should be designed in such a way that it allows passage of light and the transportation thereof to maximize the benefits. Some of the benefits of using fiber optic include:
- Cost effectiveness
In fiber optic systems, only light flows in the tubes as opposed to electricity that may produce radiations. Therefore, it can be used in contact with water such as in the swimming pools.
Examples of fiber systems
This system was developed in Japan to supplement the energy requirement for the country. The system is made up of Fresnel lenses and glass optical fibers, and it takes the shape of a sunflower. A sun collector is fitted at the top of the system, and it changes the position depending on the direction of the sun.
This system was developed in the US, and it is used to collect sunlight based on research carried out by different universities and laboratories. It is estimated that the system shall provide an energy saving of over 30 billion KWh by the year 2020. The light collection method is similar to that of Himarari in that it has a sunlight collector that has a sensor to detect the direction of the sunlight.
This system was developed in Germany, and it uses the Fresnel lighting systems to collect and transmit light waves. It has a 2-axis turning unit that is used to collect sunlight during daytime.
Central lighting systems
This system is not daylight dependent, but it uses electric light that is at a central point of the system. The light is amplified by the fiber technology and transmitted to the relevant sites. Apart from giving examples of the fiber systems available in the market, the author also demonstrates the structure and the working of such systems. According to the authors, the fiber optic system works under the following principles.
Firstly, the fiber optics is made up of silica glass that allows for reflection of light inside the tubes. The innermost part of the fiber is made up of a core that hosts the light during transmission (André and Schade 35). After the core layer comes the cladding that is made of glass. The cladding helps direct the light through the core to the required destination. The outermost layer of the fiber is called h buffer, and it serves the role of preventing the core from damage. Transmission of light waves through the fiber tubes, however, suffers a major blow regarding loss of information. Transmission of light to long distances is not effective due to distraction caused by the environment (Miller and Chynoweth 107).
The author proposes a few areas where improvements are needed. In that regard, he advises future researchers to embark on a more extensive research to provide solutions to the shortfalls in the current fiber optics. The following shortfalls are identified in the article:
Since the fiber optics is highly dependent on the sunlight, it is not reliable in times when the sunlight is insufficient. There needs to be another reliable source of light to supplement the sunlight to ensure the system’s reliability.
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2-axis turning units
Currently, the fiber technology involves the use of 2-axis turning units that also have their shortfalls. The 2-axis turning troughs create spaces between the collectors, which lead to the ineffective collection of the light per square meter. Sealing these spaces may help increase the amount of light collected per square meter.
The article “Optical transmission systems using polymeric fibers” by Fischer, Haupt, and Joncic explores the application of the fiber optic in communication to replace the traditional copper cables that are inefficient and expensive. The structure of the fiber cable takes the form of incredibly thin strands. Each strand is thin and carries up to 25,000 phone calls meaning that the entire cable can carry a few million phone calls (Fischer, Haupt, and Joncic 98). In that regard, the system is efficient than the traditional copper cable that could not carry such a high number of calls. The system uses the fiber technology to transfer calls from one location to the other using light-based technology.
Optical transmission systems refer to a method of transferring information from one location to the other using light as the transmitting medium. The technology has received great acceptance from telecommunication industry that use it to transfer important data. The technology is applicable to a phone conversation, and it can be used by computer users to transmit information. Under the system, “light travels in glass tubes and due to the repetitive hitting of the walls of the tube, it forms an electromagnetic carrier wave that is modulated to carry information” (Miller and Chynoweth 109). The technology was developed in the 1970s and is currently applied by most firms in the telecommunication industry. The authors identify various benefits accruing from the use of the technology. Firstly, communication through the fiber optic allows fast transfer of data from one location to another. Secondly, the transmission is cheaper since one strand in the fiber optic can carry thousands of phone calls. Communication involves the following simple steps “creating the optical signal involving the use of a transmitter, relaying the signal along the fiber, ensuring that the signal does not become too distorted or weak, receiving the optical signal, and converting it into an electrical signal” (Miller and Chynoweth 114).
The traditional fiber optic transmitters were only applicable in communications involving short distances. The transmission distance of a fiber-optic communication system has optoelectronic repeaters that help exemplify the signals. Though the cost of the repeaters is high, it is said to make communication far much easy. Optical amplifiers may also be used for the same purpose and are less expensive than the repeaters.
Wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM)
The fiber optic technology continues to evolve, and most companies are using parallel channels to multiply the capacity of the cables. A wavelength division multiplexer is usually fitted with the transmitting equipment while a de-multiplexer is fitted in the receiving equipment.
The optical communication system works in a similar manner as that of the electric fiber. An optical fiber cable is made up of a core, cladding, and a buffer, all of which perform different roles during the transmission of the light waves (Unger and Gough 1520). The core serves as the tube through which the light waves passes and is made of a transparent material. On the other hand, the cladding helps in guiding the light through the tubes and it is made of silica glass. The buffer serves the purpose of shielding the core from damage that could interfere with the passage of the light waves. The commercial optical fibers are coated with an extra ultraviolet (UV), light-cured acrylate polymers. The coating is meant to shield the system from possible interference from environmental radiations. The optical cables require lesser maintenance as compared to the traditional copper wires.
Advantages over copper wiring
The article highlights some notable advantages of using the optical systems in place of the conventional copper wires in transmitting information. The benefits are as follows:
The capacity of the optical fibers is almost double that of the traditional copper wires. A single optical fiber carries millions of phone calls making it more efficient than the copper-made wires. One optical fiber carries over 3,000,000 full-duplex voice calls or 90,000 TV channels.
Immunity to electromagnetic interference
The optical fiber is not electric conductive which provides it with immunity against interference from the electromagnetic radiations from the environment. Therefore, the information travelling through the cables is not affected by such radiations. Copper wires are highly electric conductive hence the transmission of information through the medium may be interrupted.
Low attenuation loss over long distances
Attenuation refers to the loss of information during transmission for long distances (Agrawal 87). Fiber allows the use of amplifiers that minimizes the loss of such information. None of the amplifiers is applicable to the copper wires hence the huge loss.
Optical fibers are non-conductors of electricity hence they are not prone to lightning strikes and can be fitted close to electrical wires. On the other hand, copper wires are good conductors of electricity and may be struck by lightning. Moreover, they cannot be fitted close to electrical poles.
Material cost and theft prevention
The copper wires are subject to theft due to their higher value in the scrap metal market than the fiber strands in the same market. Theft of such wires may increase the maintenance cost, and it may interrupt communication.
With the cost of fossil fuels increasing day after another, innovation in the energy industry is inevitable. The players in the sector have come up with new technologies that not only aim at cutting down the energy production cost but also to reduce environmental pollution. Daylight has proved to be an excellent source of energy, and most global governments have invested in the same to supplement their energy needs. The fiber technology has specifically played a great role in transforming daylight to energy that is used at homes. This paper has explained the concepts of the daylight source of energy through a review of three articles about the topic.
Agrawal, Govind. Fiber-optic communication systems, New York: Wiley, 2012. Print.
André, Erik, and Jutta Schade. Daylighting by optical fiber. 2001. Web.
Eskiçirak, Umut, Tarık Akyol, and Muhammed Karakaya. “Sun Tracking System.” İstanbul Aydin Üniversitesi Dergisi 4.14 (2008): 1-6. Print.
Fischer, Ulrich, Mathias Haupt, and Mladen Joncic. Optical transmission systems using polymeric fibers, Rijeka: Intech Open Access Publisher, 2011. Print.
Miller, Stewart, and Ivan Chynoweth. Optical fiber telecommunications, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2012. Print.
Unger, Nicole, and Oliver Gough. “Life cycle considerations about optic fiber cable and copper cable systems: a case study.” Journal of Cleaner Production 16.14 (2008): 1517-1525. Print.