Published on August 24th, 2012 | by Nathan0
Solar Pocket Factory Aims to Make Small-Scale Solar Widely Available
A new startup, The Solar Pocket Factory, is aiming to create a small, automated machine that can create microsolar panels to be used for a variety of different purposes, charging cell phones, computers, and battery packs for starters. The inventors hope it expands far beyond that, though.
Essentially the inventors are hoping for it to become the first crowd-sourced breakthrough in renewable energy.
“Inventors Shawn Frayne and Alex Hornstein have started a Kickstarter campaign for the Solar Pocket Factory, not just to ramp up production of this cool machine, but to improve the quality of small-scale solar panels, lower their cost and to expand their reach to people across the globe.”
When beginning this project, they found that around 50% of the cost of a microsolar panel is in its assembly, everything has to be made by hand and many of the panels end up being flawed and thrown out because of bad soldering. The materials used also tend to be cheap, and likely to fail within a few years “as UV from the sun breaks down the cheap plastic that coats the panels, even though the silicon cells trapped inside can easily work for twenty-five years.”
The partners decided that if they could automate the production and testing, they could save around 25% of the cost of a panel. This would also greatly cut down on the numbers thrown away because of defective soldering. Those savings could be put into use by using higher-quality materials, improving the lifespan and efficiency of the panels. “As an end result, we could make microsolar panels about 30% cheaper than the existing panels and make them last five times longer in the sun.”
Another very important part of their project is to make the machine similar to a 3D printer, making manufacturing a more open-ended process where designs are open source and available to anyone. The inventors have already created instructions on how to make your own solar-powered cell phone charger and other projects.
“As a reward for giving to the Kickstarter campaign, donors can receive a Solar Pocket Kit, Solar Explorer Kit or Solar Cell Phone Charger Kit depending on the level of donation that include all the materials you need to start a solar power system.”
The inventors are trying to reach their goal of $50,000 raised by September 14.
Images via Kickstarter