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Clean Power spray-on-solar-cells

Published on January 13th, 2010 | by Jerry James Stone

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Researchers Make Breakthrough in Transparent Spray-On Solar

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January 13th, 2010 by  

New Energy Technologies, which introduced us to harvesting energy from roadways, has developed transparent solar cells which can be sprayed onto any glass surface.

How? They successfully removed all metals from the solar cell. A huge challenge as the metal component in the cells act as a negative ‘polar contact.’ And they replaced those metals with an eco-friendly compound: one you can see through!

“The ability to spray solar coatings directly onto glass follows on the heels of our recent breakthrough which replaced visibility-blocking metal with environmentally-friendly see-thru compounds, and marks an important advance in the development of our see-thru glass windows capable of generating electricity,” announced Meetesh V. Patel, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies.

Current solar cells are largely made of silicon wafers, an expensive and brittle material. And newer, low cost thin film solar requires both a high-vacuum and high-temperature production. Techniques that are much slower than a spray-on solution.

These ultra-small solar cells are, in fact, the world’s smallest in use. They are less than 1/4 the size of a grain of rice. And New Energy’s ultra-small solar cells generate electricity not only from the visible light spectrum found in sunlight but also by using the visible light found in artificial light, such as fluorescent lighting.

The performance properties of these cells has enabled development of an ultra-thin film that’s 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair. In contrast, conventional thin films are exponentially thicker, measuring several micrometers thick and inhibiting transparency.

Patel said, “In commercial terms, this new spray technology could translate into important manufacturing advantages for our SolarWindow, including significant cost-savings, high-speed production and room-temperature deposition – common barriers to commercial success for innovative solar technologies.”

“I’m particularly impressed by the potential application of this technology in areas where direct exposure to sunlight is limited or unavailable, since these ultra-small solar cells have demonstrated a special ability to generate electricity in both natural and artificial light conditions,” he added.

This, of course, is not the first time we have seen spray-on solar. Nanoparticle ‘inks’ are being researched for coating rooftops and other surfaces. Obviously they aren’t ideal for windows.

There are nearly 5 million commercial buildings in America, according to the Energy Information Administration, and more than 80 million single detached homes. The ease of installation with spray-on solar could definitely be a game changer.

This transparent process is currently pending a technology patent.

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Source: BusinessWire

 

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About the Author

is a web developer, part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. His crusade for all things eco started twenty years ago when he ditched his meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. His passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. And while he doesn't own a car anymore, he loves to write about those too. Jerry studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. During his time there he was a DJ at the campus station KCPR and he also wrote for the campus paper. Jerry currently resides in San Francisco, CA with his cat Lola. You can stalk him on Twitter @jerryjamesstone.



  • http://www.yert.com Mark Dixon

    Do you think the folks at Solar Roadways could use this stuff to spray on the underside of glass that they use to pave roads? This could revolutionize their design.

    We visited Scott, who developed the solar road idea and received a grant to develop a prototype. I wonder what he thinks about the spray on solar collection options…

    Here’s a video about Solar Roadways that summarizes the technology: http://bit.ly/6nEhGe

  • http://www.yert.com Mark Dixon

    Do you think the folks at Solar Roadways could use this stuff to spray on the underside of glass that they use to pave roads? This could revolutionize their design.

    We visited Scott, who developed the solar road idea and received a grant to develop a prototype. I wonder what he thinks about the spray on solar collection options…

    Here’s a video about Solar Roadways that summarizes the technology: http://bit.ly/6nEhGe

  • Ty

    Wow cool! To bad there isn’t a way for this to work on any surface. Or how could this be used with the new growing industry of hybrids using electricity and new battery technology? Glass covered roofs on cars?

  • Ty

    Wow cool! To bad there isn’t a way for this to work on any surface. Or how could this be used with the new growing industry of hybrids using electricity and new battery technology? Glass covered roofs on cars?

  • Brian N

    The solar pv research comes from University of South Florida – http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.2998825

    and they don’t say the efficiency because its too early. The prototype is 2.2cm^2 area.

    Anything in the lab is years away from delivery.

    The SEC filings gives much details about their investments, subsidiaries etc.

    http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1071840/000146780910000006/nene_10-q113009asfiled.htm#page_20

  • Brian N

    The solar pv research comes from University of South Florida – http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.2998825

    and they don’t say the efficiency because its too early. The prototype is 2.2cm^2 area.

    Anything in the lab is years away from delivery.

    The SEC filings gives much details about their investments, subsidiaries etc.

    http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1071840/000146780910000006/nene_10-q113009asfiled.htm#page_20

  • Adam Abel

    Brian N awesome information. You actually posted more then the article did. Whoever wrote this article you could learn something from Brian N and do some research before you publish articles like this. If its true this would a insane break through but this sounds way to fair fetched to work.

  • Adam Abel

    Brian N awesome information. You actually posted more then the article did. Whoever wrote this article you could learn something from Brian N and do some research before you publish articles like this. If its true this would a insane break through but this sounds way to fair fetched to work.

  • Alex

    I think Brian N has hit the nail on the head with this one. You can make a working solar cell out of a powdered jelly donut and bottle of vodka (I am not kidding). Issues like efficiency, cost and viability are not trivial matters here, and none of these things are addressed.

    PV window coatings however, are not a zero sum game. The efficiency of direct gain solar heating is incredibly low. Even low efficiency panels powering low efficiency heaters would dominate a high end direct gain window.

    One square meter of sunlight has 1kW of energy, so bear in mind that a cheap, durable 1% efficient solar cell would find a lot of applications in a short amount of time.

  • Alex

    I think Brian N has hit the nail on the head with this one. You can make a working solar cell out of a powdered jelly donut and bottle of vodka (I am not kidding). Issues like efficiency, cost and viability are not trivial matters here, and none of these things are addressed.

    PV window coatings however, are not a zero sum game. The efficiency of direct gain solar heating is incredibly low. Even low efficiency panels powering low efficiency heaters would dominate a high end direct gain window.

    One square meter of sunlight has 1kW of energy, so bear in mind that a cheap, durable 1% efficient solar cell would find a lot of applications in a short amount of time.

  • http://extremegreenvillage.com Bob Henry

    I have no idea how this works.

    I think this is wonderful but what percentage of solar energy will this process generate?

    Is it only 1%? Is it 11%? How much does it cost per KW hour?

  • http://extremegreenvillage.com Bob Henry

    I have no idea how this works.

    I think this is wonderful but what percentage of solar energy will this process generate?

    Is it only 1%? Is it 11%? How much does it cost per KW hour?

  • Tom

    Transparent: having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen. If the light passes through this solar cell then its efficiency must be horrible.

  • Tom

    Transparent: having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen. If the light passes through this solar cell then its efficiency must be horrible.

  • lokki

    Great article! thanks

  • Pablo

    @Brian N – Some applications don’t want high PV heat gain, like commercial glass-front buildings and homes in hot, sunny places like southern California and the southwest. For these areas, a window that takes in less heat and provides electricity for AC instead is quite practical.

    Your suggestion of an air heating system for glass-faced buildings may make sense in the frozen north, but in the southwest many glass-faced buildings must be air-conditioned year round due to high solar heat gains.

  • Pablo

    @Brian N – Some applications don’t want high PV heat gain, like commercial glass-front buildings and homes in hot, sunny places like southern California and the southwest. For these areas, a window that takes in less heat and provides electricity for AC instead is quite practical.

    Your suggestion of an air heating system for glass-faced buildings may make sense in the frozen north, but in the southwest many glass-faced buildings must be air-conditioned year round due to high solar heat gains.

  • lokki

    Great article! thanks

  • Brian N

    Residential windows provide important solar gain so any conversion to electricity, lessens that gain and increases either heating or lighting load to compensate. PV on windows are therefore a zero sum game!

    A glass faced building might seem to also make sense for PV coating. Once again if there is good solar gain it could be much more efficiently incorporated into a solar air heater system.

    The PV efficiency was not even stated so I visited the company website octillioncorp.com and could note find much info on this.

    Patel is a lawyer and they have just one scientist Livesey on board the team.

    The companies primary idea is harvesting kinetic energy from slowing vehicles at well trafficked stop points. They claim 2KW generation as cars ride over it but I don’t believe the math would deliver useful output.

    They claim numerous patents are being filed so

    I did a USPTO advanced search yet got no results for New Energy Technologies or Motion Power or “Patel M”

    I smell yet another IP company looking for easy VC on pseudo solutions.

  • Brian N

    Residential windows provide important solar gain so any conversion to electricity, lessens that gain and increases either heating or lighting load to compensate. PV on windows are therefore a zero sum game!

    A glass faced building might seem to also make sense for PV coating. Once again if there is good solar gain it could be much more efficiently incorporated into a solar air heater system.

    The PV efficiency was not even stated so I visited the company website octillioncorp.com and could note find much info on this.

    Patel is a lawyer and they have just one scientist Livesey on board the team.

    The companies primary idea is harvesting kinetic energy from slowing vehicles at well trafficked stop points. They claim 2KW generation as cars ride over it but I don’t believe the math would deliver useful output.

    They claim numerous patents are being filed so

    I did a USPTO advanced search yet got no results for New Energy Technologies or Motion Power or “Patel M”

    I smell yet another IP company looking for easy VC on pseudo solutions.

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