Organic Solar Cells – New World Record Efficiency Reached

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Feb 162016

Organic photovoltaic solar cells (OPV) such as polymer solar cells are promising but not quite ready for commercial production. Their significantly lower device efficiency and operational lifetime compared with conventional silicon cells posed challenges for mass production.


Continuous Innovation at Heliatek

Nevertheless, researchers continue to work out improvements on the basic OPV design, undeterred by the efficiency and lifetime issues of the OPV. German solar technology firm Heliatek did not stop innovating OPV for its solar-powered car despite the discouraging 3% efficiency of the OPV that time, around 2003.

In 2012, the German company claimed world-record of 10.7% conversion efficiency for its OPV, and promised to reach the 15% to 20% efficiency of inorganic solar cells. A year after, Optics Org reported that Heliatek had “pushed the conversion efficiency of its organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells to 12%,” which is equivalent to at least 15% in conventional semiconductor-based cells.

Fast forward to 2016, three years after, the German solar technology company announced a new record of 13.2% conversion efficiency using a multi-junction cell. OPV are gaining more interest in the realm of green energy technology because they are cheaper to produce and are more flexible.

Heliatek further claimed that its latest OPV with 13.2% efficiency exhibit “excellent low light and high temperature behavior” of its inorganic counterpart and can generate power as well as conventional cells with 16% efficiency under real world conditions.


Purdue University Research Findings

Much like Heliatek, the engineering professors of Purdue University are conducting a research suggesting a new method for manufacturing inexpensive solar technology.

Researchers, Muhammad Ashraful Alam, Bryan Boudourism, Biswajit Ray, Aditya Baradwaj and Ryyan Khan suggested to keep electron-hole pairs separated so that they don’t recombine and impede current generation. They also suggested to simplify the design of organic solar cells using only one type of polymer, and to produce cells out of purer polymers since they are more efficient.

The US Department of Energy, and the US Air Force are some of the sponsors to the research.


Likely Commercialization of OPV

In its latest OPV design, Heliatek combined three kinds of absorbers specifically dedicated to convert green, red and near-infrared light to electricity with more efficiency than ever before. It has only been 13 years since OPV was met with much skepticism, but Heliatek’s new world-record solar cells may just well be the key to cost-effective harnessing and harvesting of sunlight to make electricity.

Heliatek’s super lightweight, flexible and low-cost organic solar cells provides a hint that commercialization of OPV may well be under way. Organic solar cells offer a substantial cost advantage over silicon solar cells, and may be manufactured via roll-to-roll processing like that of newspaper printing.

In the same way, Purdue University researchers are continuing on the study and are working on a new type of solar cells that don’t need bulk heterojunctions. They intend to dig deeper into how OPV operate and to help design more efficient and more affordable organic solar cells.


Zayed Future Energy Prize

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Feb 102014

There are a few people that have heard about the Zayed Future Energy Prize. However, most people have never heard of it. The emerging popularity and recognition of this particular award and prestigious accolades has definitely increased in recent years primarily because of the history behind it and its overall purpose. Therefore, understanding exactly what that vision is and having a brief overview of the history will make it much easier to comprehend.

What Does It Represent?

The Zayed Future Energy Prize actually represents the focus and vision of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. This late leader was credited with and officially recognized as the founding father of the United Arab Emirates as well as the President. Throughout life and career, he was widely known and recognized for his contributions to the world of environmental stewardship overall. There were many people that were inspired and motivated by the decisions that he made and the way that he led his life – personally and professionally as well. Therefore, it felt right to name this award in his honor and to focus on finding people that share his passion, focus and overall vision in order to award them with such a prestigious award.

What Does it Celebrate?

The Zayed Future Energy Prize celebrates the vast number of achievements each year that clearly reflect a high level of innovation, vision, impact and overall leadership when it comes to the emerging fields of renewable energy as well as sustainability in general. The recipients of this prize each year have actively been able to contribute their own hard work and persistent efforts towards finding new and improved solutions that make it much easier to meet the specific challenges related to such things as the security of energy, climate change and the overall environment.

Exploring the Different Prize Categories

There are a wide variety of different categories in which people and professionals can win this prestigious prize. For instance, it is awarded to the people, groups and even high schools that have been able to demonstrate a significant effort in such areas as innovation, impact, leadership as well as a long-term vision & focus. In addition to large corporations and small or medium enterprises, several other categories include non-profit organizations, high schools around the world as well as lifetime achievement awards.

Nominations are accepted each year and then the actual awards are given out shortly thereafter. What are your future energy goals?


Mar 092011

For those who think that cold fusion is the energy source of the future you’ll be heartened by the news that pioneering engineer and inventor Andrea Rossi ran an 18-hour test of his cold fusion device successfully without any mishaps.

Many people believe that future cold fusion will run everything from large scale power plants to personal power plants, cars, space craft and even small electronic devices. The emerging technology behind creating and containing cold fusion has been in the works for years.

Now, however, Andrea Rossi ran a successful test using warm water, 0.4 grams of hydrogen, nickel powder and some super secret (pinkie shake and decoder ring) catalysts.

According to NYTeknik, “The ‘energy catalyzer’, demonstrated to invited scientific observers in January, is producing heat by an unknown reaction. The device’s reactor is loaded with nickel powder in the presence of secret catalysts, and pressurized with hydrogen. When the device is ‘ignited’ by the application of heat through an electrical resistance, a reaction emitting about 10 kilowatts of heat output starts. Rossi’s hypothesis is that the energy derives from a nuclear reaction in which a nickel nucleus captures a proton (the hydrogen nucleus of) to form copper. This could be regarded as’cold fusion’.”

Rossi brought up the idea that there was some sort of fraud going on behind this event. He basically said that at the end of his career he has nothing to gain by using smoke and mirrors to get the desired results.

This may just be the cold fusion breakthrough scientists have been seeking for years. If Jimmy Durante were alive today he may just say, “Cold fusion? Hot-cha-cha-cha-cha!”