We've already discussed Nanosolar's reel-to-reel solar press in some detail, but they're not the only ones working on solar printing. Indeed, Konarka has taken the process to a whole new level of simplicity by actually using an inkjet printer.
Using the existing technology like this allows for a significant reduction in costs, because the company doesn't have to invest in developing a whole new system. Of course, it's also bound to be slightly less perfect than if a printer were designed specifically for the cells. Nonetheless, these sheets of plastic film are flexible and inexpensive to produce.
Konarka expects to see uses for them in the same arena where they've already been successful -- mostly powering indoor sensors. But they also hope to use the new low-cost process to broaden their applications. They're already in talks with the people who run the LEED efficiency rating system about full panels for using in buildings.
Because the film is cheap, can convert non-direct light, and is flexible, applications are varied. Konarka's CEO told Popular Mechanics that they "constantly receive calls from innovators who have read about the cells and propose unique—sometimes wild and crazy—concepts for the technology."
We should see these printed plastic panels showing up in panels on rooftops in 2009, and by 2010, they may be available for purchase off the shelf at Home Depot.
written by Rob, March 07, 2008
written by Allie, March 08, 2008
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