Solar Power for the Portable Computers
Recently, the demand for portable devices with the ability to function even in places high inconvenience has gained significant demand. The portable devices include cooking devices, portable power sources, and electronic equipments. In addition, personal digital assistants have had a progressively high demand, and are still commanding the electronics market due to the quickly evolving silicon technology. Personal computers, smart phones, and digital media players are the leading commodities with a speculated future rise in demand.
Lithium- ion batteries are the conventional source of power for personal computers. To some extent, they serve the purpose satisfactorily. However, the manufacturers of personal computers have not yet identified a sufficient source of power to keep them operational for a reasonable length of time at a reasonable cost. An averagely priced computer is equipped with 5AH lithium-ion battery at its best (Bauer, 2011). Depending on the computer architecture and the nature of the applications running on it, the battery can keep the computer operational for an average of two and a half hours after which the computer starts to shut down if there is no alternative source of power. The time is not sufficient to facilitate the computer’s convenient use especially during travel or fieldwork, which are common to most engineering professionals as lot of computer work is undertook.
Although the personal portable computers built for professional use are equipped with a powerful battery, it barely lasts for more than eight hours (Bauer, 2011). Our company can endeavor to develop the existing solar cell manufacturing line and equip it for the large-scale manufacture of powerful and compact solar cells that will significantly enhance the convenience and efficiency associated with personal computers.
The Personal Computers
A personal computer is a suitable device to equip with a solar panel that can utilize the sun’s energy during the day. A powerful solar panel can even trap light energy indoors if there is some illumination from the sun. The solar power can support the computer’s battery for a whole day with the depletion of half its stored power when used indoors. Furthermore, the solar power can fully support the computer functions when used outdoors where it is possible to convert direct sunlight to energy capable of keeping the computer operational and charging its battery (Tiwari, 2006). A personal computer becomes more suitable for solar power usage due to its larger surface area that allows the installation of the solar cells and the adaptor system. The use of solar power on digital devices is a recent innovation since the liquid crystal displays became the standard display media for average cost personal digital assistants (Boer, 2005). However, devices such as mobile phones and digital music players are not a suitable target for solar power since they have smaller surfaces and are often in the pocket for most of the time they are not in use. Computer designs have evolved to include powerful processors for heavy engineering computer applications, which require a powerful power source. Computers used for professional applications are most likely to be carried by professionals in business trips or fieldwork.
Longevity of Solar Technology
The addition of solar cells in computer will significantly increase their cost compared to the current moderate prices. However, this technology has the prospects of a longer battery life for computers equipped with the lithium-ion battery. This is because the frequency of the charge and discharge cycles of the lithium-ion battery significantly determines the battery life. The inclusion of a solar power system in the computer architecture significantly reduces the cycles. In the long run, the computer will last longer and save the user the cost of replacing a worn-out battery. This will be an added advantage for the company’s professional customers since most companies plan on equipment acquisitions on the long-term basis. Another aspect that supports the use of solar power is the longevity of the solar power systems (Bauer, 2011). Unless physically damaged, the solar cells installed on a personal computer are likely to outlast most of the computer components. Solar panels exposed to the sun on daily basis are guaranteed to last for more than 25 years.
Changes to the Current System
Our department will modify the current lithium-ion cells to attain compatibility with the solar power charging system. The modification will incur an insignificant cost since it involves the redesign of the charging system. Although the innovation will involve a relatively costly revision of the current cosmetic design, the projected benefits make the implementation of the technology worth. Recent developments in technology have identified compact solar cell designs that are considerably efficient and could power an average portable computer system without the battery support. However, further research is necessary to establish the most appropriate photovoltaic cells for computer application.
Power is an important factor for a computer buyer. A customer will consider his or her power needs when buying a computer particularly for professional use. The target market is the developing countries that are a major part of the company’s customer base. These countries have not yet achieved sufficient levels of power distribution, and the need for a portable power source is on the rise. It is also in these countries where the demand for digital electronics is immense since they have not embraced computer technology as a major aid to industrial operations and managerial functions. The location of the target market is in the tropical belt where direct sunlight is available for most of the seasons throughout the year. An integrated solar power source for personal computers will counter the effort by our competitors to woo customers with solar powered computer systems.
Impact on the Environment
The current lithium-ion technology requires a special disposal procedure for worn-out batteries. Moreover, the current rate of battery disposal has had adverse effects on the environment due to pollution. The employment of solar technology will reduce the need to dispose the batteries off frequently. This will facilitate the company to feature as one of the pioneers of environmental friendly sources of power. In addition, solar power lacks any by-product that may need disposal and the technology requires no plugs unlike the mains electricity. This facilitates convenience to profession who considerably value time.
Solar power is not considered as a possible source of power for portable devices since it requires a relatively large surface area for optimum performance. Most computer manufacturers have dismissed it as a clumsy option compared to the pure battery technology. However, the recent developments where the cells are coupled with batteries present a new opportunity for the company to provide an economical and efficient power source for the customers. The company can launch the installation of the batteries in the higher cost portable computers, and then gradually woo the middle class customers into buying the computers.
Research has found that most people, particularly professionals, are aware of the capabilities of the solar power technology (New Society, 2004). This makes it easier for the company to realize the market’s appreciation of its products easily. With the current need for portable computers with a longer battery life, the market is yearning for an alternative. Furthermore, establishing this technology as pioneers will give the company an advantage in the technology before it is established as a conventional standard method of powering portable computers. The project, if implemented, will use the most advanced solar cell technology, which does not require silicon cells. This will considerably reduce the computer’s weight to facilitate improved portability.