It can be said without a doubt that solar power is the most cost-effective source and form of energy. Significant research made in this field has made it all the more possible to harness the power of the sun easily and efficiently. The presence of resource-saving production technology and increasing efficiency are the two main factors that are needed to decide to proceed further.
Highline Technology GmbH, which is the most recent spin-off company of Fraunhofer ISE has developed a new technology to enhance the electricity yield of silicon solar cells.
This start-up company intends to commercialize this newly developed process to enable a contactless dispensing method to apply front metal contacts onto solar cells. This process will save resources, increase the electricity yield, and help with cost reduction if everything falls into place properly. There are other applications as well which include production processes outside the photovoltaics field.
How This New Technology to Enhance the Electricity Yield of Silicon Solar Cells Came into Being
The Highline Technology draws its expertise in making this new technology to enhance the electricity yield of silicon solar cells from the research of 10 years at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE on dispensing processes for silicon solar cell metallization. In this period not only a multi-nozzle dispensing print head was developed but expansive knowledge on printing pastes and processes was also acquired.
The new technology can be combined with conventional production lines for silicon solar cells thereby substituting the screen printing process usually used for the front-side metal contacts. This helps in saving 20% of silver consumption as well. With the help of this process, the front-side contacts produced are thinner, thereby exposing to the sunlight a large semiconductor surface. This in turn increases the electricity output and also enhances the efficiency by 1% approximately.
Even while deploying thinner silicon wafers the contactless process ensures a lower reject rate. Additionally, the inline printing process will increase the output considerably in comparison to the conventional screen printing process presently used. This new process would even probably make it possible to optimize other production steps used in the manufacturing of solar cells.
Making Solar Cell Production Sustainable
Dr. Maximilian Pospischil, Managing Director and one of the founding members of HighLine Technology says, “Our main focus is currently on reducing material consumption in the photovoltaic industry,” He adds further, “Our aim is to bring the highly efficient parallel dispensing technology which was developed at Fraunhofer ISE to the market.
Along the way, we are continuing to work closely with Fraunhofer ISE’s Photovoltaic Technology Evaluation Center PV-TEC. Besides the photovoltaic industry, our dispensing technology is attractive for other industrial production processes. Our service offer includes accompanying companies from equipment manufacturing, through the process integration up to the application”.
Comparable to Printing Using an Enhanced Toothpaste Tube
It is with the help of a contactless printing process that the materials used in the dispensing technology are pressed through the multitude of minuscule nozzles of highly parallel print heads onto the surface of the solar cell on the front side. Instead of a toothpaste tube, the PV production developers make use of nozzles measuring approx. 20 µm. These tiny nozzles help to produce the required structures in high quantity.
Dr. Ralf Preu, Head of Photovoltaic Production Technology at Fraunhofer ISE, says, “We are very pleased to welcome HighLine Technology as a new customer of our PV-TEC.” He adds, “The unique infrastructure of PV-TEC makes it possible for us to cooperate with start-ups excellently, enabling us to adopt new technology developments to specifically meet the market needs.”
The EXIST Transfer of Research program of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy BMWi is funding the HighLine Technology GmbH. Among others, the project is also being financed by the Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds GmbH FTTF.There are high hopes for this new technology to enhance the electricity yield of silicon solar cells. Hence, more research is being conducted.