Can I have some solar power with my soy milk, please?
Cheaper, cleaner solar cells could soon be a reality thanks to a team of scientists based in the UK. And guess what? The alternative they've put forward is the same ingredient used in the production of soy milk and tofu.
Historically, a solution of cadmium chloride is used as coating for thin-film solar cells. It increases the efficiency of converting the sun's rays into energy by enabling electrons to pass across the surface of the cell. The downside to this is cadmium chloride is extremely potent chemical. It has been linked to cancer, lung disease and cardiovascular disease, and therefore requires the use of protective gear and other costly precautions.
The fix? The research group tested a number of alternatives to find a replacement, but it was magnesium chloride that took the cake. This non-toxic chemical costs 300 times less than cadmium chloride, and is harmless enough to use in the production of food products including soy milk and tofu.
While skeptics have deliberated over the exact cost-savings, the potential reduction in health and environmental risks appear hard to argue against.