All eyes are on Isaac as the hurricane makes landfall along the Gulf Coast. But it was another hurricane that inspired a physics professor at the University of Houston. And his invention may keep the lights on, in the future.
Hurricane Ike slammed into Galveston and Houston in 2008. Ike was a wake up call for Seamus Curran, director of the Institute for Nano-Energy at UH. The storm left his house without energy.
“My wife asked me, ‘How long you been working in solar?’” Curran recalled. “And I told her 15 years. And she said, ‘Hmm. Why don’t you make something practical that’ll help us?’”
Four years later, meet the Storm Cell: a portable solar generator – about the size of a Smart Car – that turns sunlight into voltage.
The 6-panel model generates about 2 kilowatts, enough to allow a small household to limp along after a storm.
At around $19,000, it’s not cheap. But Professor Curran says the longer the power is out, the more economical it gets.