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By Shane Lasley
Metal Tech News 

New perovskite solar consortium formed

NREL, academia, industry team up to change solar game

 

Last updated 5/6/2020 at 4:27am

Perovskites thin-film solar cells harnessing sunlight to generate electricity

Fraunhofer ISE

Perovskites thin-film solar cells have proven to be highly efficient at harnessing sunlight to generate electricity.

Working with leading domestic solar companies, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Washington Clean Energy Testbeds at the University of Washington, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of Toledo have formed the U.S. Manufacturing of Advanced Perovskites Consortium (US-MAP), which will work to accelerate commercialization of perovskite technologies.

Perovskites are a class of compounds which have the same type of crystal structure as a calcium titanium oxide mineral composed of calcium titanate for which the group gets its name.

Thin-film solar cells that use perovskites have proven to be highly efficient at harnessing sunlight to generate electricity.

Aside from their solar applications, perovskites have shown tremendous promise in a range of other technologies, including solid-state lighting, advanced radiation detection, dynamic sensing and actuation, photocatalysis, and quantum information science.

Early investments by the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office and its Office of Science into perovskite research have enabled the United States to engage at the forefront of many of these technology areas and fostered a vibrant community of domestic industrial leaders.

Perovskite solar cells can be produced without the need for the high-temperatures and precise processes required for traditional silicon cells.

"Perovskites have the potential to become a game-changer for solar and many other fields," said National Renewable Energy Laboratory Director Martin Keller.

While perovskite cells have shown promise in the lab, more work remains to be done to overcome durability, sustainability and manufacturing challenges.

The best performing perovskite solar cells contain a form of lead that can dissolve in water, which raises environmental concerns.

In order to ready perovskite technology for commercial success, researchers are looking into lead alternative materials that have the potential to reduce, and potentially eliminate toxicity and environmental concerns.

Work also needs to be done on scaling production up from the lab to commercial.

Perovskite thin-film cells are built with layers of materials, often printed or coated from liquid inks. While this has worked well in the lab, producing uniform, high-performance perovskite material in a large-scale manufacturing environment has proven to be difficult. This lack of uniformity has resulted in a substantial drop in performance.

Improving the quality of manufacturing at a commercial scale without making the process cost-inhibitive will be key to perovskite cells competing with other thin-film and traditional silicon photovoltaic technologies.

To tackle these challenges, the government, academia and industrial sector members of US-MAP will share research and development, validation, and pilot manufacturing, which will reduce development costs and technology risks for potential investors.

"By combining our research efforts, this new consortium will bring this technology to market sooner than if we were all operating alone," said Keller.

US-MAP has six major U.S.-based industry players as founding members – BlueDot Photonics, Energy Materials Corp., First Solar, Hunt Perovskites Technologies, Swift Solar, and Tandem PV. Representatives from each of these companies, as well as new U.S. startups and other established companies, will form an industry advisory board that will inform and guide the efforts performed at the research institutions.

The founding organizers – NREL, Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, UNC-Chapel Hill, and University of Toledo – will form the executive board that will oversee delivery on perovskite solar projects.

The US-MAP organizers and members have already begun expanding this network to include the University of Colorado at Boulder and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Perovskites thin-film solar cells harnessing sunlight to generate electricity

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The founding organizers of the US-MAP consortium will explore funding from a variety of sources including industrial members and the federal government.

Joseph Berry, a senior research scientist at NREL, and Jao van de Lagemaat, director of the Chemistry and Nanoscience Center at NREL, will serve as leaders of the US-MAP consortium.

Berry and Lagemaat will work with the key points of contact of the other founding organizers and industrial advisory board.

"Forming this collective will enable innovation in the U.S. that will strengthen our position in these important materials and associated technologies," said Berry, perovskite team lead for NREL.

For more information about US-MAP, visit http://www.nrel.gov/research/us-map.html.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

Over 12 years of covering mining, Shane has become renowned for his insights into technology metals and and in-depth analysis that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being interesting to a wider audience.

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