Parasol Modular- Where Art meets Science to save the World!

What happens when art and science are combined?

The parasol, which dates back to ancient Egypt, was first used as protection against the scorching heat of the sun; its name comes from “para” meaning to stop or shield and “sol” meaning sun. Parasol Modular is a collection of artful structures that integrate colorful photovoltaic panels into a modular building system. This alternative to stagnant solar arrays allows owners to enjoy the beauty of filtered sunlight as well as gain the benefits of harnessing the sun’s energy.

Who would have thought that playing with a child’s toy would inspire an idea for a solar carport for electric vehicles? This is what happens when architect Kerrik Wessel plays with his children. Conceived with a child’s imagination and detailed with an architect’s expertise, Parasol Modular is an artful approach to modular building systems.

The art.

Parasol Modular structures are made from flexible and shatter resistant polycarbonate panels that have a snap joint connection allowing it to be self-supporting requiring no structural frame. These prefabricated structures are modular in design. The building system components to be easily assembled, boxed, shipped and deconstructed. The panel system is colorful and interchangeable. Owners can create their own patterns. Structure size can vary according to one’s budget. Additional panels can be added at a later date for expansion.

The science.

Traditional solar panels are what you typically see on rooftops and are mostly black. They rely on direct sunlight and are often unwieldy, heavy and inflexible in terms of where they are placed. Price, orientation and appearance are obstacles that most homeowners face when contemplating purchasing traditional solar panels.

Luminescent solar concentrators (LSC) are a very simple concept. This technology allows the seamless integration of photovoltaics and plastics. Polycarbonate panels, like the ones that I use for Parasol Modular, can be coated and filled with luminescent molecules that can absorb incident sunlight and re-emit it at longer wavelengths. A fraction of this light becomes trapped in the plastic panel through total internal reflection. The emitted light is focused and concentrated at the panel edges where small, efficient PVs for light conversion are placed. As a result of placing the PVs at the edges of the panels, less PVs are used than traditional solar collectors making LSC technology more affordable. The panels can be made thin, thus reducing weight and allowing flexibility. LSCs do not need to track the sun and work equally well in both direct sunlight and diffuse environments. The panels are translucent, can be “cut to shape” and made in a variety of colors.