COLUMBIA, USA: New Energy Technologies Inc., a developer of innovative technologies for generating sustainable electricity, and NREL scientists collaboratively developing New Energy’s SolarWindow technology – capable of generating electricity on see-through glass – have successfully fabricated the largest-area organic photovoltaic (OPV) module ever produced at the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Scientists developing New Energy’s SolarWindow technology fabricated today’s large area 170 square centimeters (cm2) working module, more than 14-times larger than previous OPV devices fabricated at NREL.
NREL is among the world’s most respected and advanced solar-photovoltaic research institutions, and over its 35-year history has been credited for ground-floor support of many of the commercial technologies employed by today's renewable energy industries. 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,” stated Dr. David S. Ginley, an award-winning NREL Research Fellow and accomplished expert in transparent conductors and OPV. “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,” explained William Farris, Vice President of Commercialization & Technology Transfer at NREL. “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 toward eventual commercial application.”
“The achievement marks our SolarWindow’s ongoing progress in addressing an important hurdle to commercialization – scale-up,” stated John A. Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies. “Our scientists, technical advisors, 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.”
Today’s large-area SolarWindow milestone was made possible through the efforts of New Energy’s Principal Scientist, Dr. Scott Hammond, in collaboration with numerous NREL Researchers. Working at lab scale, scientists made use of a solution-processable coating technique in order 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 announced that 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.
Notably, 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. 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 ten new patent filings and is the world’s first-of-its-kind technology capable of generating electricity on see-through glass windows.