Volume 45, Issue 4 - April 2010


company news

Pilkington North America to Collaborate with Dyesol on BIPV
Pilkington North America in Toledo, Ohio, has announced its collaboration with Dyesol Inc., the California-based division of Australia’s Dyesol Ltd., to develop opportunities in the building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) marketplace. The BIPV products would utilize Pilkington’s TEC series of transparent conductive oxide (TCO) coated float glass and Dyesol’s dye solar cell (DSC) materials and technology.

“Pilkington believes it is time to begin developing the next generation of photovoltaic power,” says Stephen Weidner, senior vice president of building products for North America. “BIPV is an emerging market segment with great opportunity for utilizing our TCO technology to bring photovoltaic power into building design.”

Weidner adds, “The collaboration with Dyesol has the potential to bring a significant change in the value of architectural glass as we know it today. No longer will glass be viewed solely for its insulation and aesthetic properties, but for its power generating potential as well.”

“Pilkington is the world leader in the production of TCO glass. In fact, Dyesol and their customers have been utilizing Pilkington’s TEC product for many years. This collaboration presents an ideal platform for co-developing and optimizing products that work together to improve DSC performance,” says Marc M. Thomas, chief executive officer of Dyesol. “With 25 percent of all electrical energy consumed in the U.S. used in the built environment, the market opportunity is enormous.”

Dr. Gavin Tulloch, the global managing director, chief technology officer and co-founder of Dyesol Ltd., says, “DSC technology can best be described as ‘artificial photosynthesis’ using an electrolyte, a layer of titania (a pigment used in white paints and toothpaste) and ruthenium dye deposited on transparent conductive oxide glass, metal or polymer substrates. Light striking the dye excites electrons, which are absorbed by the titania to become an electric current many times stronger than that found in natural photosynthesis in plants. Dyesol’s technology has lower cost and embodied energy in manufacture, produces electricity more efficiently even in low light conditions and can be directly incorporated into buildings by replacing conventional glass.”

Saflex Reduces Material Use with Thin Gauge Encapsulant
Saflex®, a unit of St. Louis-based Solutia Inc., has announced the availability of a new thin gauge polyvinyl butyral (PVB) based encapsulant designed for photovoltaic (PV) applications. The company reports that its new Saflex PA41 reduces encapsulant usage while maintaining module durability and processing performance.

PA41 is a second generation PV product designed specifically to reduce encapsulant thickness by 33 percent (from 1.14 to 0.76 mm). To accomplish this, properties of the PA41 formulation were optimized to improve encapsulating flow around bus bars and other critical components. In addition to the successful IEC and UL testing, the manufacturer developed a testing regimen that included a series of natural and accelerated weathering tests that go beyond PV industry standards. Saflex also partnered with module manufacturers to confirm that handling, processing and throughput of PA41 met or exceeded expectations compared to thicker gauge PVB encapsulations.

Schiatti Angelo Supplies Standalone or Full Lines for Solar Glass Processing
Schiatti Angelo srl in Italy provides to the photovoltaic industry automated edging and drilling equipment as a standalone option or complete processing line. The company’s high speed BFT double edging lines are composed of two machines connected with a 90-degree transfer table (or inline, according to the customer’s requirements), allowing for perfectly squared glass sheets that are ground and polished on all four sides. The company offers 17 models with maximum widths from 900 to 4,500 millimeters and various diamond and polishing configurations. All of the company’s machines are designed to handle coated and non-coated glass sheets in thicknesses ranging from 3- to 15-millimeters.

Schiatti also has supplied fully automated lines consisting of automatic loading of the glass sheets, edging, drilling and washing with multidirectional outfeed conveyors.

Ferro Awarded $1 Million Grant for Solar Cell Research
Ferro Electronic Materials in Cleveland, a supplier of materials for fabricating photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, has been awarded $1 million by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) to develop advanced durability sealing systems for solar cells. In this project, Ferro will engineer a vitreous frit system to provide reliable air- and water-tight seals for second- and third-generation thin film solar cells. Ferro will collaborate with the Edison Welding Institute, StrateNexus Technologies and The Ohio State University, all of Columbus, Ohio, in developing, testing and commercializing this new technology.

If successful, the new sealing materials will enable Ferro to solve a significant problem with second- and third-generation thin film solar cells. As with all solar cells, thin film cells require a hermetic seal to operate reliably for their expected lifetimes of 20-plus years. This can be a problem because most current thin film solar cell modules are designed to be sealed with organic sealants that the company says typically lose their hermeticity in time, especially if exposed to sunlight containing UV radiation. The problem can be aggravated by exposure to daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations that can further weaken the seal.

Ferro proposes to replace the organic seal with technology similar to its glass frit sealing materials presently used in thick-film solar cells that are field-proven to last beyond the cells’ expected lifetimes. The technical challenge is that thin film cells are extremely temperature sensitive, and the current frit technology requires high firing temperatures to create the seal. The goal is to create a glass frit material that can create the required seal at lower temperatures and that can be activated by laser-based and ultrasonic energy systems.

“One of Ferro Corp.’s core technical competencies is the design and manufacture of custom glasses,” says Steven Florio, chief technology officer for Ferro’s Electronic, Color and Glass Materials division. “We believe this strength in glass technology will enable Ferro to rapidly drive the development of the frits required for this critical new application.”

Funding for the project is provided through the Ohio Third Frontier Photovoltaic Program, which supports re
search and development that addresses the technical and cost barriers to commercialization of PV components and systems in Ohio.

Leybold Optics Updates Hot Apollon Coating System
Leybold Optics in Alzenau, Germany, has introduced the Hot Apollon, the latest version of its glass coating system. The company says that its Apollon system, with its flexible, modular design and low power consumption, is already an economical and reliable platform for production of low-E, and other solar control coatings on architectural glass as large as 10 ½ by 20 feet.

The Hot Apollon increases this flexibility, using sputter coating technology to deposit multilayer coatings onto glass panels at elevated temperatures.

The real-time monitoring system, and automated deposition control with lambda sensors, ensures consistency and productivity. Use of rotary cathodes keeps costs low due to maximum utilization of material, few target changes and high layer quality.

For thin film PV coating “Hot Apollon” can be used for deposition of front and back contact layers using molybdenum and transparent conductive oxides and precursor layers for CIGS solar cells.

Sika Bonds with PV Fabricators
Sika Services AG in Switzerland provides technical solutions for sealing and bonding with its Sikasil® product range for photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal module production, as well as for concentrating solar power and building integrated PV systems. For the solar industry, the company reports that its products have been optimized with regard to curing speed and performance in the production process. This allows manufacturers to meet the high demand of quality requirements, cost reduction and supply security worldwide.

Solutia to Acquire Etimex Solar
St. Louis-based Solutia Inc. has reached a definitive agreement to purchase Etimex Solar GmbH, a supplier of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) encapsulants to the photovoltaic market with U.S. headquarters in Sacramento, Calif. The purchase price of $324 million USD in cash is expected to be financed from existing cash on the balance sheet and additional debt.

According to the announcement from Solutia, combining EVA with its existing polyvinyl butyral (PVB) encapsulant capabilities positions the company as the world’s only one-stop source for solar encapsulant solutions.

“This acquisition is a solid step forward that strengthens our core competencies, expands our end markets and supports Solutia’s growth strategy,” says Jeffry N. Quinn, chair, president and chief executive officer of Solutia. “Renewable energy is an acknowledged source of long-term growth that fits well with Solutia’s businesses, and the combination of EVA and PVB encapsulant manufacturing capabilities will result in access to additional opportunities.”

Etimex’s VistaSolar® products, manufactured in Dietenheim, Germany, are fast curing EVA films; the company also offers thermoplastic polyurethane films that do not require curing. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2010, contingent upon customary closing conditions.

The Carrymate® Helps Heft PV Panels
Although Dr. Gold & Co. in Henderson, Nev., has been selling its Carrymate® non-slip panel grips for more than 14 years, company representatives say it’s brand new to the solar glazing industry. The panel grips provide users a fast and efficient way of transporting solar panels, solar thermal panels, photovoltaic modules, glass lites and other awkward-to-move materials, allowing the users to lift up to 440 pounds in weight.

The grips are constructed of lightweight aluminum, and the replaceable rubber pads, along with the cushioned shaft, prevent damage to the carried load. Users can slide the self-adjusting grips on the side of the panel wherever works best for their height and arm length, allowing both users to lift the panels with one hand and walk in the same direction, facing forward. The Carrymate’s ergonomic handle permits the wrist to stay relaxed and the self-adjusting clamps allow users to easily adjust the position of the grips according to changing terrain such as stairs. This helps keep the elbow straight, preventing fatigue in the carrying arm, as well as low back pain.

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