Sep 21, 2015 | By Kira
Spanish tech company Oxolutia has developed Solar Oxides, flexible photovoltaic solar cells that can be manufactured by 3D printing. Using conductive oxides, a non-toxic, stable, and low-cost material found abundantly in nature, the cells open up exciting new opportunities for generating low-cost solar energy.
The photovoltaic solar cells are installed on panels to absorb solar radiation for solar thermal plants. More traditional methods include using monocrystalline silicon, however given the low cost of the raw materials and 3D printing production process, Solar Oxides offer a much more competitive advantage. This technological breakthrough would be a boon to the energy sector, where there is a growing demand for environmentally friendly, stable, secure and more energy efficient systems, especially as we continue to deplete earth’s natural resources and increase carbon emissions. The affordable, 3D printing-enabled solar technology could also be used in other industries, such as transportation, medicine and tele-communications.
Oxolutia is a technology-based spin-off of the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB) that aims to conduct research and bring to market processes and materials in the field of applied superconductivity and nanotechnology. In order to create the flexible solar cells, the engineering team utilized 3D inkjet printing, which allows drop-wise deposition of liquids onto surfaces, combined with chemical solution deposition approaches for producing oxide thin films. They believe this is a technology that will open new avenues for digital fabrication, graded materials, and additive manufacturing. Having developed the pilot plant in 2013, they expect to have a workable prototype by next year.
The project has been selected by Repsol as one of nine winners of the 2015 Fundación Repsol Entrepreneurs Fund. Repsol is one of the world’s largest energy groups committed to renewable sources and preserving the environment, and their Fund, now in its fourth year, is aimed at entrepreneurs dedicated to improving the field of energy efficiency and energy saving with innovative technological projects.
Of the nine projects awarded grants, four were submitted by researches and entreprenurs at the Esfera UAB-CEI research cluster, including Solar Oxides. Chosen from among over 200 entries, these projects will receive a grant of up to €288,000 over a maximum of two years, and will also be allocated a team of tutors, specific training, and technical and legal advisors in order to get their technological solutions to the market as quickly as possible. To that end, they will also be granted office space in the Repsol Technology Centre in Madrid, Spain.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications