RISØ DTU has spent more than ten years of intensive research and development in bringing polymer solar cells into mass production. Polymer solar cells which is an inexpensive alternative to silicon solar cells, has a significant industrial potential. The current development at Risø-DTU now allows R2R manufacturing of polymer cells at a rate that is 8.000 times faster than current silicone cell production. This High-speed roll-to-roll printing allows for processing of as many square meters of polymer solar cells in one hour as a crystalline Silicon solar cell plant produces in one year.
Production of polymer solar cells starts from a roll of flexible foil on to which the solar cell is built layer by layer by printing and finally rolled up onto the coil again. Encapsulated and ready-to-use units can thereafter be cut and laminated from the roll and according to the customer’s specification. As the whole process from feedstock to the finished product is performed roll-to-roll, the new production line paves the way towards mass production of solar cells and thereby correspondingly low prices.
The GM Solar-2 is based on two conjoined GM modules that forms the base of the printing machine. The line has then been fitted with a custom-made RISØ DTU slot-die printing head, a Stork rotary screen printer and a flexographic print roller for a total of three different coating and printing methods. The modular base means that additional stations can easily be retrofitted if required.
Professor Frederik C. Krebs from Risø-DTU is the driving force behind the Danish polymer solar cells. Ten years ago he started out with a bright idea, his two hands and a strong dedication. Today Frederik Krebs is the head of an international leading research team counting more than 25 persons – a team capable of combining world-class science with a strong desire to bring science into real life. The Risø team distinguishing themselves by being first to demonstrate new and innovative applications for the polymer solar cell: “The Solar Hat” – a hat powering a small FM radio (Roskilde Festival 2008), a solar-powered reading lamp for African school children (Zambia 2009) and the world's first grid-connected PV installation based on the polymer technology (Risø 2009).
“GM's development of machines for production of polymer solar cells has taken the company on a innovative journey. It has been a good way for us to further enhance our products and penetrate into new markets. Our collaboration in recent years with the scientists at Risø DTU concerning the technology for manufacturing plastic solar cells has also opened our eyes for an innovative product like solar cells that provides the energy supply in wireless sensors and communication devices and other consumer electronic products where a small energy source is required as a replacement for batteries,” says Uffe Nielsen, Director of Grafisk Maskinfabrik A/S.
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Life cycle assessment of ITO-free flexible polymer solar cells prepared by roll-to-roll coating and printing. Nieves Espinosa, Et.Al.
Product integration of compact roll-to-roll processed polymer solar cell modules: methods and manufacture using flexographic printing, slot-die coating and rotary screen printing. Frederik C. Krebs, Jan Fyenbo and Mikkel Jørgensen