Research to advance renewable energy
In addition to procuring renewable energy for our own use, IBM is working to further the availability and affordability associated with various forms of renewable energy by investing in
IT-related research and development. Three recent examples:
- IBM scientists have developed a method of dramatically improving the overall efficiency of concentrated solar power systems up to 80 percent. The prototype High Concentration
Photovoltaic Thermal system uses a large parabolic dish, made from a multitude of mirror facets, which are attached to a sun tracking system that positions the dish at the best angle to
concentrate the sunlight onto several microchannel-liquid cooled receivers with specialty photovoltaic chips. Hundreds of the photovoltaic chips are mounted on micro-structured layers
that pipe liquid coolants within a few tenths of a micrometer off the surface of the chip to absorb the heat and draw it away 10 times more effectively than can be achieved with passive
air cooling. The entire receiver combines hundreds of chips and provides 25 kilowatts of electrical power.
- IBM has demonstrated a light-weight, ultra-high-density lithium-air battery with the maximum energy density theorized to be 15 times greater than lithium-ion batteries. Most importantly,
continued advancement of the technology may achieve energy density comparable to that of gasoline, which would markedly improve the economics of electric vehicles.
- IBM is working with a range of partners to deliver smart grid capability to improve the integration of distributed generating assets -- including wind and solar electricity generation
systems and systems with energy storage capacity, such as electric cars and large refrigeration systems -- into grid dispatching and planning processes. These projects are critical to enabling
the smooth integration of renewable energy generation resources into the grid system.
World Community Grid - Clean Energy Project (Phase 2)
Climate protection is also an objective of IBM's corporate philanthropy. Solar cell research is being conducted through the IBM-sponsored World Community Grid:
- Clean Energy Project (Phase 2) -- The mission of the Clean Energy Project is to find new materials for the
next generation of solar cells and later, energy storage devices. Chemistry can help meet this challenge by discovering
new materials that efficiently harvest solar radiation, store energy for later use, and reconvert the stored energy when
needed. By harnessing the immense power of World Community Grid, researchers can calculate the electronic properties of
tens of thousands of organic materials -- many more than could ever be tested in a lab -- and determine which candidates
are most promising for developing affordable solar energy technology.