Solar Panel Upgrade of the Day: A seventh-grader named Aidan Dwyer, inspired by the patterns of branches on oak trees, created a new arrangement of solar panels that generates 20-50% more energy than a the traditional flat solar array.
Aidan’s solar tree design is based on the Fibonacci sequence, a pattern that’s been observed in many places in nature, including tree branches.
For his trouble, Aidan received a Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History, and a provisional patent on his invention.
(From the Daily What)
Aidan Says: "I designed and built my own test model, copying the Fibonacci pattern of an oak tree. I studied my results with the compass tool and figured out the branch angles. The pattern was about 137 degrees and the Fibonacci sequence was 2/5. Then I built a model using this pattern from PVC tubing. In place of leaves, I used PV solar panels hooked up in series that produced up to 1/2 volt, so the peak output of the model was 5 volts. The entire design copied the pattern of an oak tree as closely as possible. ... The Fibonacci tree design performed better than the flat-panel model. The tree design made 20% more electricity and collected 2 1/2 more hours of sunlight during the day. But the most interesting results were in December, when the Sun was at its lowest point in the sky. The tree design made 50% more electricity, and the collection time of sunlight was up to 50% longer!"