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Brighter Future for Solar Panels: Silicon Shortage Eases

from the Christian Science Monitor
 
Quartz, the raw material for solar panels, is one of the most abundant minerals on earth. But for years, the solar industry has faced a bottleneck in processing quartz into polysilicon, a principal material used in most solar panels. The problem stalled a steady decline in prices for solar panels.
 
Now the silicon shortage may be coming to an end, predict some solar analysts, thanks to new factories coming online.
 
If true, the price for solar panel modules could start falling by as much as a third by 2010, says Travis Bradford, president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development in Cambridge, Mass. That’s good news for an industry that remains one of the most expensive power sources.

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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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