Home Business Technology Oak Ridge National Lab, Industry Collaboration Puts Spotlight on Solar

Oak Ridge National Lab, Industry Collaboration Puts Spotlight on Solar

Four manufacturers of solar energy components are working with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to address some of their biggest challenges.

Through individual cooperative research and development agreements, the companies hope to advance solar cell materials and processing technologies. The $880,000 effort is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the department’s Office of Science.

“By leveraging our expertise in materials science and manufacturing, the laboratory will assist these partners with their individual solar manufacturing challenges and address opportunities to produce high-efficiency devices at substantially lower cost,” said Craig Blue, director of ORNL’s Energy Materials Program.

Solar cell manufacturing encompasses a broad range of disciplines, including crystal growth, continuous thin-film deposition, thermal annealing, barrier coating, joining and scribing techniques and on-line quality control measures.

For these R&D agreements,

  • Mossey Creek Solar, in Jefferson City, is producing low-cost high-quality silicon wafers with significant reductions in waste material and energy consumption.
  • Global Solar Energy, in Tucson, Arizona, is developing scalable non-vacuum deposition techniques for thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide, a direct-bandgap material for solar cells.
  • Ferro Corp. of Independence, Ohio, is developing inks and pastes to be used for highly conductive layers in thin-film solar cell applications.
  • Ampulse, in Golden, Colorado, is developing an efficient roll-to-roll manufacturing process to deposit thin-film silicon.

For these four projects, the industry cost share exceeds 50 percent of the total cost.

UPDATE: in December 2012, Ampulse closed its dorrs, because the low-efficiency crystal silicon pnelsproved to be much too expensive. Global Solar Energy was bought out by Chinese company, Hanergy.

Through DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program, ORNL issued a competitive solicitation to industry for proposals addressing key problems related to solar cell manufacturing. These projects were selected following a technical and programmatic review process. ORNL expects to complete the projects within six months.

“These short-term focused projects are designed to provide proof-of-principle for innovative approaches to reducing the cost of solar cell manufacturing,” said Chad Duty, ORNL program manager for Solar Technologies. “This is a unique and timely opportunity for ORNL to work with industry and set the course for a new generation of solar energy technologies.”

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start hammering away on the keyboard.

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