Officials at the New Energy Technologies Inc. of Columbia, Md., collaborated with scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of Golden, Colo., to successfully fabricate the largest-area organic photovoltaic (OPV) module ever produced at the NREL, according to a February 21 company news release.
The scientists fabricated the large area 170 square centimeters (cm2) working module, more than 14 times larger than previous OPV devices fabricated at NREL, according to the release.
NREL and New Energy have been working through a cooperative research and development agreement to advance the company's SolarWindow technology for generating electricity on glass windows.
"The fabrication of a large-area see-through solar module of these dimensions is an important step in New Energy's SolarWindow ongoing development," says David S. Ginley, an NREL research fellow and expert in transparent conductors and OPV, in the release. "We believe that building integrated applications provide a promising avenue for OPV deployment and we are continuing to work with New Energy Technologies to further address scale-up, a key milestone toward developing a deployable technology."
"For more than three decades, NREL researchers have worked to help companies move their renewable energy technologies closer to commercial product," says William Farris, vice president of commercialization and technology transfer at NREL, in the release. "It's encouraging to contribute to breakthroughs such as today's large-area solar photovoltaic array, an important step toward supporting New Energy Technologies' SolarWindow towards eventual commercial application."
"Today's achievement marks our SolarWindow's ongoing progress in addressing an important hurdle to commercialization - scale-up," says John A. Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies, in the release. "Our scientists, technical advisers, business team, and shareholders, whose patience and perseverance have contributed to this significant technical stride, can be proud of their made-in-America accomplishment. In 2012, our focus is on aggressively advancing our SolarWindow technology toward commercialization with larger scale, high-speed manufacturing, higher voltage and bolstered power output, and greater transparency."
New Energy's principal scientist Scott Hammond, in collaboration with numerous NREL researchers, worked on the large-areas SolarWindow prototype. Working at lab scale, the scientists made use of a solution-processable coating technique to deposit see-through electricity-generating coatings on to glass surfaces. These electricity-generating coatings, consisting largely of polymers, are first designed and subsequently produced by way of organic synthesis; they are then applied to glass using various methods, including high-speed, high-volume industrial processes important to the eventual commercial manufacturing of SolarWindow products. Once electricity-generating polymers are applied to a material surface, the resultant effect is the production of an OPV cell. The prospect of SolarWindow products generating electricity on see-through glass is made possible by way of the unique architecture associated with this fabrication of the OPV device.
Last month, New Energy researchers had investigated and made use of a high-speed/large-area solution-coating process, which allows for rapid scale-up to larger glass surface areas. This improved process also generally provides for more uniform and faster application of SolarWindow electricity-generating coatings than conventional methods, and has resulted in the production of the company's new, large-area SolarWindow prototype announced today.
The company's latest solution-coating technique has already been demonstrated as compatible with roll-to-roll (R2R) high-speed and high-volume fabrication methods, potentially providing for very-large scale manufacturing, according to the release. Compared to manufacturing of first-generation solar products, low temperature and ambient pressure R2R manufacturing promises: low labor costs; decreased capital equipment expenditure; reduced cost of energy required for production; and improved environmental and occupational control.
Currently under development for eventual commercial deployment in the estimated 85 million commercial buildings and homes in America, SolarWindow is the subject of 10 new patent filings and is the world's first-of-its-kind technology capable of generating electricity on see-through glass windows, according to the release.