Real time PV Manufacturing Diagnostic System
The main obstacle Photovoltaic (PV) industry is facing at present is the higher cost of PV energy compared to that of fossil energy. While solar cell efficiencies continue to make incremental gains these improvements are so far insufficient to drive PV costs down to match that of fossil energy. Improved in-line diagnostics however, has the potential to significantly increase the productivity and reduce cost by improving the yield of the process, as proven by industry leaders. MicroXact proposes to develop a high-throughput in-line PV manufacturing diagnostic system, which will provide fast and accurate data on the spatial uniformity of thickness and refractive indices of the thin films comprising the solar cell as the solar cell is processed reel-to- reel. The retrieved information will provide the opportunity to detect a wide variety of processing errors, including but not limited to thickness/composition inhomogeneity in any layer comprising PV device, non-uniform scribing, cracking and layer separation. During the Phase I, MicroXact designed and assembled breadboard system prototype and unambiguously experimentally verified that the proposed solution meets all the expected specifications in terms of resolution, accuracy and throughput, and demonstrated defect detection on actual CIGS solar cell samples. An advanced design of the portable system adapted to PVMC pilot CIGS PV manufacturing line was conceived and Phase II validation testing plans were developed/budgeted. In Phase II, MicroXact will complete the design, develop and test the portable PV manufacturing diagnostics system for the 0.6m wide CIGS manufacturing line and will validate its performance initially in-house on solar cell samples from the same manufacturing line, and then will perform demonstration of PV manufacturing diagnostics on PVMC pilot manufacturing line. The demonstration of a high-throughput in-line PV manufacturing diagnostic system at PVMC pilot line will lead to the rapid and successful commercialization of the technology in Phase III. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The target application for the proposed in-line manufacturing diagnostic system is the PV cell manufacturing lines with high production capacity ( & gt;10MW/year), in which the benefits of the in-line diagnostics (such as yield improvement and cost reduction) are expected to outweigh the cost of system installation immediately. In addition, low-cost system modifications will be developed to target off-line quality assurance and quality control at smaller-scale PV cell manufacturing lines.
Small Business Information at Submission:
295 Industrial Drive Christiansburg, VA 24073-2538
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