If the race to find alternative power was a simple beauty contest, then André Broessel's solar ball would surely be standard on rooftops by now. Because his energy concentrating design really is elegant—much more handsome than a clunky old solar panel.
Aesthetics aren't the only reason to like Broessel's invention. The German architect says his system is 35% more efficient than a standard panel, and that it does even better when combined with a tool for tracking the sun. More than that, it also improves on the material footprint of conventional technology. The cell area behind the water-filled ball is 75% smaller than a panel with the same output.
Reached in Spain, Broessel explains that he first came up with the idea as his daughter played with a marble inside an egg bag. He could see the light's focal point moving as the ball rolled around, and realized he could adapt the glass bead into an energy generating device. His prototype now sits on his Barcelona apartment building.
Broessel, whose company is called Rawlemon, has been working on the design for three years, and received certification for his power numbers in 2013. He's now looking for funding for a much smaller desktop version, which would be used to charge phones and other low-watt tasks. See his Indiegogo campaign page here, and check out the video above.
The $120,000 Broessel is looking for will go towards patent applications he's filed in five jurisdictions (total cost: nearly $50,000) and for further testing. Eventually, he hopes to see solar balls integrated into the sides of buildings. If so, at least they'll be more sightly than today's panels.