Energy | March 19, 2012 |
‘Invisible Wires’ for Transporting Electricity on SolarWindows
by Zachary Shahan
We covered New Energy Technologies’ trademark SolarWindow technology a couple times last year after researchers at the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) teamed up with New Energy Technologies to advance these SolarWindows. To put it simply, this technology would allow us to create electricity from solar technology on see-through glass — yes, totally cool! Eventually, the goal is to put these SolarWindows in approximately 85 million commercial buildings and homes in the U.S.
The company and NREL have some new announcements now. Their scientists “have successfully collected and transported electricity using a virtually ‘invisible’ conductive wiring system developed for SolarWindow.” In other words, they’re really getting there.
“Currently under ongoing development, the conductive system’s ultra-fine grid-like pattern is deposited on to SolarWindow and is rendered virtually invisible when viewing objects through New Energy’s electricity-generating glass. Researchers anticipate that a fully functional system could help transport the electricity generated on glass surfaces, improving power, efficiency, and overall performance of the Company’s SolarWindow.”
In addition to the above, last month, these scientists fabricated the largest-area NREL organic photovoltaic (OPV) module produced ever, one 14 times the size of OPV modules previously fabricated there.
“It’s very exciting that we’ve not only achieved an important milestone with respect to the size of our SolarWindow, but we are now able to confidently tackle two of the most important factors to eventual commercialization — the structure and transparency of the wiring system which transports the electricity generated on see-through glass, and overall performance,” said John Conklin, President and CEO of New Energy Technologies, Inc.
Here are some more technical details on the new invisible wires:
The prospect of generating electricity on SolarWindow is made possible when researchers creatively layer and arrange unique, ultra-small see-through solar cells on to glass. Each of these cells are arranged in a network and interconnected by way of the ‘invisible’ grid-like wiring system, announced today. Until now, such systems used in early SolarWindow prototypes were relatively thick and bulky, and applied to glass in ways that obstructed light, prevented the absorbance of light energy necessary to produce electricity, and significantly reduced transparency.
The ‘invisible’ wiring system is especially important to the ongoing development of SolarWindow, most notably allowing for more efficient collection and transport of electrons, both important for improving circuit current and overall efficiency. The system helps mitigate electrical ‘road-blocks,’ which restrict the flow of electrons with regions of high resistance, by creating a kind of low-resistance ‘highway’ for electron transport; without the benefit of a conductive grid system, resistive losses can significantly reduce power production. A fully functional and optimized system could improve the reliability of SolarWindow by providing a stable network of connections among each of the interconnected solar cells on the see-through glass.Reprinted with permission from Cleantechnica