Reducing ecological footprint of OPV production

May 07, 2013

Solliance - a cross-border research initiative on thin film photovoltaics by ECN, Holst Centre, imec, TNO, TU Eindhoven and FZ Jülich - has achieved a world first with a new inkjet printing process for manufacturing environmentally friendly OPV cells that deliver benchmark efficiency. Completely compatible with existing manufacturing technology, the process replaces toxic chlorinated solvents with more benign alternatives. The result builds on a combined achievement of Solliance and French OPV manufacturer DisaSolar, and was also supported by the EU FP7 project X10D.

Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) promise cheaper that can be flexible, lightweight, semitransparent and easily integrated into construction materials. Until now, however, OPV production processes have relied on spin-coating techniques and chlorinated solvents. These solvents are highly toxic; their potential for contaminating the water in rivers and killing wildlife making them a banned substance for processes. OPVs have so far been limited to lab-scale production.

Under its goal to eliminate toxic substances from production, Solliance has developed a new OPV process that allows the photo-active layers to be inkjet printed without using poisonous chlorinates. The breakthrough was achieved in collaboration with French OPV manufacturer DisaSolar and within the framework of the European project X10D.

The 'magic' behind the process is a blend of low-toxicity solvents. They provide a stable base that achieves the right level of viscosity and of the inks, allowing OPVs to be printed. The resulting OPV cells deliver performances comparable to the spin-coated counterparts from standard chlorinated solvents, both achieving approximately 3% efficiency for a P3HT:PCBM photoactive layer system.

Next to being environmentally friendly Solliance's solution also benefits from being based on , making it more suited to scaling up to commercial production. The process uses industrial print-heads, so cells are created in a single pass making production very fast.

"By combining a more environmentally friendly process with large area inkjet printing capability, we have successfully bridged the gap between academia and industry," explains Tamara Eggenhuisen, research scientist in Solliance's Organic Photovoltaics program.

"Apart from the speed and ecological advantages, using ink jet printing allows cells of any shape to be printed. As a result, OPV cells and modules could be fully integrated into building materials and other applications, adding invisible solar generation functionality for perfect environmental aesthetics," adds Jan Gilot, senior research scientist in Solliance's Organic Photovoltaics program.

Explore further: Renesas announces SRAM using leading-edge 16 nm FinFET for automotive information systems

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

European interregional collaboration on thin-film PV

Oct 08, 2012

Imec and its partners in the Solliance initiative announce that they have launched, together with the Institute of Materials Research of the University of Hasselt (IMO), the Solar Flare Interreg Project. Solar Flare is co-funded ...

Recommended for you

Cyclist's helmet, Volvo car to communicate for safety

15 hours ago

Volvo calls it "a wearable life-saving wearable cycling tech concept." The car maker is referring to a connected car and helmet prototype that enables two-way communication between Volvo drivers and cyclists ...

California puzzles over safety of driverless cars

15 hours ago

California's Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they'll know whether "driverless" vehicles ...

Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

16 hours ago

UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.