UNITED STATE Air Force Research Laboratory Invests in NREL Solar Cell Project

Sep 10, 2020 08:14 PM ET
  • The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory will purchase a strategy established at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to bring spacefaring solar modern technology down to Earth.
UNITED STATE Air Force Research Laboratory Invests in NREL Solar Cell Project
Imae: Dennis Schroeder, NREL

Referred to as III-V solar cells-- so named due to where the products fall on the periodic table-- the innovation is incredibly reliable yet as well costly for terrestrial usage. Instead, they are frequently used to power satellites in Earth's orbit as well as a lot of NASA's goals to Mars and other planets. Scientists at NREL, nevertheless, have actually invested the past several years servicing a way to make the cells less costly to manufacture.

The approach spearheaded at NREL relies upon what is called dynamic hydride vapor phase epitaxy, or D-HVPE. The process involves depositing chemical vapors onto a substratum. The earlier version of HVPE utilized a solitary chamber where a chemical was deposited, the substrate eliminated, the chemical switched out for the next, as well as the substratum went back to the deposition chamber.

D-HVPE makes use of a multi-chamber reactor, substantially speeding up the process.

" The investment below is particularly to make a pilot-production activator," said Aaron Ptak, a senior scientist in the National Center for Photovoltaics at NREL. "This will allow us to show that the D-HVPE technology can be scaled to satisfy the needs of Department of Defense consumers."

Previously, the Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-- Energy have actually funded NREL's work on D-HVPE.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) works as the key clinical r & d center for the United States Air Force. AFRL in 2014 revealed the development of the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations as well as Research task, which intends to catch solar energy utilizing very effective solar cells and also transfer the gathered energy to Earth.

Using a laboratory-scale activator, NREL researchers can make a III-V solar cell that measures 2 inches in size. The production-scale reactor will certainly permit the manufacture of industry-standard cells 6 inches in size. The bigger reactor is anticipated to be set up at NREL in July 2021.

Kyma Technologies, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, will work with NREL researchers to aid develop the reactor for the D-HVPE system. The business has a proficiency in HVPE equipment. Ceres Technologies, of Saugerties, New York, will manufacture the reactor for NREL. Both firms have previously partnered on other jobs.

" Bringing Kyma in offers us some extra HVPE knowledge that's actually useful below," Ptak said. "It was kind of natural to handle Kyma since they comprehended the HVPE process and they currently had an existing partnership with Ceres to help construct semiconductor tools to the specifications that are needed for market and also now for national laboratories."

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