Thursday, February 6, 2014

Paper solar cells: The future for PV?

Another milestone for solar photovoltaic industry? Potentially yes.

Reseachers from the South China University of Technology, alongside their counterparts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, have published a report on a new type of paper they claim can be used as material for next generation solar cells.

It said the new wood-based paper product outperforms all other materials in both optical transparency and optical haze, delivering low-cost, high-efficiency and environmentally friendly performance.

Wood fibre close-up. Tests show that a wood-based paper product could be used in solar cell production. Image: pv-magazine

Material for next-gen solar cells

The paper is made of TEMPO-oxidized wood fibers that eliminate micropores and instead produce nanopores, which allow for ultrahigh transparency values of 96%, and optical haze values of 60% - the highest optical haze value reported among transparent substrates.

Typically, materials that boast a high optical transparency (allowing for good light transmission) of over 90% generally have low optical haze values (the scattering and, therefore, the absorption of transmitted light within the material) of less than 20%.

How it is produced

The TEMPO treatment weakens the hydrogen bond between the microfibers that make up typical wood fibers, causing them to swell and collapse into a tightly packed structure that eliminates micropores.

The wood fibers in normal paper have a low optical transparency because the microcavities that exist within the porous structure cause light scaterring. But with the micropores removed and replaced by nanopores, optical transparency is improved.

I'm  sceptical, but...

Mooted low-cost, eco-friendly adaptations of traditional technology are regularly met with a fair amount of skepticism, but the promised efficiencies this paper could bring to the solar PV industry certainly warrant further investigation.

Further readings at: PV-magazine

1 comment:

Solar Companies said...

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