One of the benefits to solar cells compared to other renewable energy technologies is that they're small and flexible and researchers have been able to come up with lots of different ways to manufacture and use them. From cells so small they could be sprayed onto surfaces to cells built into the slats of blinds, scientists and designers have used their creativity, but what if you could get sheets of solar cells with a hit of the print button? That's just what researchers in Australia think is possible.
CSIRO's Future Manufacturing Flagship in Australia is researching ways to print plastic solar cells reel-to-reel with the help of banknote printing company Securency International.
Flexible, organic solar cells will be printed on polymer in large sheets, just like money. Once printed, the sheets could be used to cover large areas like rooftops or conformed to fit smaller surfaces. The researchers think this project could change the solar industry because it would allow solar cells to be manufactured cheaply and quickly and in large quantities.
The $12 million AUD, three-year project has already hit the halfway point with printing trials already beginning. While this innovation is very promising, I'd really like to see more information on the efficiency of the solar cells being made and what the costs would be compared to other forms of solar technology, even if those numbers are just estimates at this point.
Image via CSIRO
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