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Solar Manufacturing R&D

Solar energy is undeniably a massive resource for humanities future energy needs, with more than enough energy to meet all of the global energy needs. This resource has been supplying this energy reliably to the earth for billions of years and will continue to do so for billions of years to come. In the past several years, the costs to turn this energy into electricity has plummeted, by most accounts manufacturers sales price has decreased by 80%. However, there are still gains to be made not only in the cost of production, but also in the implementation of solar energy production. The next generation of photovoltaics will be enabled by thin films deposited by traditional manufacturing practices that will not only reduce the costs of manufacturing and installation, but will also include form factors favorable to architecture as building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Thin films are also very important to other devices such as batteries, windows, solar fuels and etc. The further reduction in the cost of solar implementation, improvement in aesthetics and the integration of batteries will definitely change the way power (electrical, thermal and chemical) is delivered in the future.

The Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research (CCRER) is striving to be at the forefront of the next generation of thin film devices. The solar manufacturing R&D lab is dedicated to discovering and manufacturing tomorrow's thin films using the todays printing capabilities.

The development of low-cost solar photovoltaics is inherently dependent on scalable manufacturing practices of the materials and processes involved. The Conn Center has established a unique, flexible manufacturing R&D line for developing cost-effective solar cell technologies for large-scale energy production. Interests include developing various thin film materials and technologies and demonstrating their ability to be economically manufactured using the roll-to-roll facility. The University of Louisville has been actively involved in the development of new materials for third generation solar cells and is uniquely positioned to scale these technologies. The facility is developing sustainable manufacturing processes utilizing low energy techniques with the goal of producing the lowest life cycle cost for photovoltaic devices.

Low cost and scalable solar cell technology:

  • Low cost, transparent conductive substrates
  • Low cost organic photovoltaics
  • Higher efficiency enabled through nanotechnology
  • Low cost, efficient and stable thin film absorbers

Flexible, roll-to-roll manufacturing R&D:

  • Thin composite films for conducting substrates
  • Thick film technology for solar absorbers
  • Rapid testing of potentially transformative material and device concepts in a manufacturing environment
  • Low temperature processing polymer substrates
  • Scalable, low energy processes for foils

Solar Manufacturing Contact

Thad Druffel, PhD, PE
Senior Research Engineer
Theme Leader Solar Manufacturing R&D
Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292
Ernst Hall 302
Email Dr. Druffel