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Novel Module Architecture Development for Increased Reliability and Reduced Costs

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-13ER86566
Agency Tracking Number: 76535
Amount: $224,954.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 07a
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0000801
Solicitation Year: 2013
Award Year: 2013
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2013-06-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
1205 West Elizabeth E164
Fort Collins, CO 80521-0000
United States
DUNS: 078698590
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Kurt Barth
 (970) 217-9434
Business Contact
 Kurt Barth
Title: Dr.
Phone: (970) 217-9434
Research Institution
 Colorado State University
Sponsored Programs
Fort Collins, CO 80523-2002
United States

 () -
 Nonprofit College or University

Statement of Problem: The US DOE has set a goal to advance photovoltaics (PV) technology to reach installed costs of less than $1/Watt. This requires module costs below $0.50/ Watt. Thin film PV provides the lowest documented production cost per watt ($0.67) of any PV technology. Module reliability has a direct impact on the levalized cost of energy (LCOE), or the cost of the energy produced by the PV system. Though thin film PV is the initial cost leader, reliability issues for thin film PV have been consistently reported. The leading US producer has had significant reliability issues and has over $200M in warranty expenses in late 2011 and 2012 alone. Since thin film PV technologies are the cost leaders and are demonstrating module reliability issues, without significantly improved module reliability, the DOE cost goals are unlikely to be achieved. New module designs are critically needed for thin film PV. Solution: A novel module architecture and encapsulation technology has been developed that addresses the critical needs of the PV industry. The technology & apos;s benefits include: Extreme robustness to moisture degradation, excellent adhesion even with UV light exposure, process cycle time for each manufacturing step is under 1 minute, small manufacturing tool footprint Reduced manufacturing cost Reduced capital costs. The patent pending architecture utilizes a specialized two part edge seal incorporating high strength, UV tolerant silicone and low moisture vapor transmission polymers in conjunction with a separate desiccant material. The structure can be utilized with both glass / glass packages or glass /back sheet structures. An initial version of this design has passed IEC 61646 and UL 1703 certification tests. Modules have passed 4500+ hrs. of the rigorous 85 C / 85% relative humidity & quot;damp heat test & quot;. This is 4.5 times the duration required by the certification standards. The modules are fabricated without lamination, vacuum pressing or module heating. The encapsulation sealants are dispensed through hot melt injection. Each of the components is applied in under 1 minute cycle time using tooling derived from production processes used in other industries. This significantly streamlines the manufacturing process, enabling small foot print tools to be located in-line with other module finishing steps thus avoiding the batching of traditional lamination. This project will finalize the development and enable commercial production. Commercial Application and Benefits: This proposed module architecture has to potential to address the key issues in the PV industry. This technology is particularly suited for addressing the durability, adhesion and moisture performance concerns of the thin film PV sector. Adoption of this technology will increase thin film PV reliability and reduce costs enabling the DOE SunShot goals.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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