InterSolar North America featured SolarWindow™ at its show this year that is a concoction of spray on cells the size of sand. The treatment coats windows that generates electricity that could replace and or complement the electricity of solar systems.
Principal scientist Dr. Scott Hammond created the patented technology for New Energy Technologies, Inc. that has now been in development since 2009. The coating not only makes use of the energy of natural sunlight, but even artificial sources such as fluorescent and LED lighting.
Jerry Schranz spokesperson for the firm stated that “working with the University of South Florida and U.S. Department of Energy – National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), New Energy Technologies has certified that this high-performance prototype has produced more than 50% greater power than prior attempts publicized by others of comparable organic photovoltaic (OPV) prototype device architecture, size and design.”
How long has SolarWindow™ been in development and can you tell us a little about how these tiny solar cells are manufactured and applied?
CEO John Conklin noted that "SolarWindow™ coatings make use of the world’s smallest functional organic solar cells, that measure less than ¼ the size of a grain of rice, and have been shown to successfully produce electricity in a published peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy of the American Institute of Physics."
Conklin further explained, "These cells are sprayed on to see-through glass at room temperature using a novel, patent-pending process, and do not require expensive high-temperature or high-vacuum production methods. The cells measure less than 1/10th the thickness of “thin” films, or 1/1000th the thickness of human hair. The first-of-its-kind SolarWindow™ technologies generate electricity on see-through glass and flexible plastics with colored tints popular to skyscraper glass.”
“Unlike conventional systems," Conklin continued, SolarWindow™ can be applied to all four sides of tall towers, generating electricity using natural and artificial light conditions and even shaded areas. SolarWindow™ uses organic materials, that are dissolved into liquid, ideal for low-cost high-output manufacturing. New Energy’s SolarWindow™ is the subject of 42 patent applications.”
Can you provide some insight into how the technology works, and why this is so cost effective to produce?
SolarWindow™ technology is made of ultra-small organic solar cells that combine to form a series of ultra-thin layers - thinner than human hair – and can generate electricity from light energy when applied to glass and flexible plastics. The product can be cost effective because the company is developing the technology to be modular (similar to solar PV modules where each window will be a Module). The SolarWindow™ system is planned to consist of a system with many interconnections, an inverter; and charge controller and energy storage device, if required. Product development will address concealment of interconnecting wires in casings and trim fixtures.
SolarWindow™ will generate DC electricity and send it to the inverter, the inverter transforms DC power into AC electricity (charge regulation to a storage device, if required) that may be used to power lights, appliances, computer equipment and other fixtures that power modern life.
Asked about market niche for which would also make the product cost effective, Conklin responded, "The potential production scale for SolarWindow™ is immense. Our SolarWindow™ technology, capable of generating electricity on see-through glass windows, is under development for potential application in the estimated five million commercial buildings in America and more than 80 million single detached homes."
What are the next steps for this solar technology?
Schranz says New Technologies currently has six product development goals for SolarWindow™ technology:
- SolarWindow™- Commercial - A flat glass product for installation in new commercial towers under construction and replacement windows;
- SolarWindow™-Structural Glass - Structural glass walls and curtains for tall structures;
- SolarWindow™-Architectural Glass - Textured and decorative interior glass walls, room dividers, etc.
- SolarWindow™-Residential - A window glass for installation in new residential homes under construction and replacement windows;
- SolarWindow™-Flex - Flexible films which may be applied directly on to glass, similar to aftermarket window tint films, for retrofit to existing commercial towers, buildings, and residential homes; and
- SolarWindow™-BIPV - Building product components associated with building-integrated-photovoltaic (“BIPV”) applications in homes, buildings, skyscrapers and office towers.
Can you provide an estimate date for when this technology will be commercially available? Any partners yet?
No clear estimates of time are available for when the technology could become a reality however Conklin noted that New Energy Technologies has already had discussions over SolarWindow™ module systems with major window manufactures, fabricators, and glass manufacturers.
In order to advance the technical development and subsequent commercialization of SolarWindow™ products, the company is currently seeking technology and product licensing arrangements with research institutions, commercial partners and organizations with market reach and mature distribution networks in the solar PV, building-integrated PV and alternative and renewable energy market industries.