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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Energy out of the printer

Friday, 30 September 2016 | Posted by: Vanessa Bauersachs, European Coatings Journal

Solar cells out of the printer? Recently, I stumbled about a interesting blog by drupa, the printing ink equipment exhibition, describing research projects on printing solar cells. Janne Halme and his team from Aalto University and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, for instance, have managed to develop a simple printing process which allows to print pictures that are able to generate power. Merely an image file is needed to print solar cells in any pattern on any material, including paper.

One of the main challenges was to find a solvent for the photovoltaic ink that prints in high-quality. Now the photovoltaic cells reach an efficiency grade of 20.5 percent. A very interesting project – especially thanks to the discovery it will be possible to integrate solar cells in the visual design of products.

Halme’s research project is not the only study in this area, five years ago Vladimir Bulović and his team of MIT transformed a sheet of paper in a photovoltaic cells foldable into different shapes. Additionally, the Institute for Print and Media Technology of Chemnitz University of Technology has also created photovoltaic cells that are able to be printed on standard paper. The ink used here has electrical properties and is called 3PV (printed paper photovoltaics).

I think these are very interesting approaches. Let’s hope that one day they are economically feasible on a larger scale. In this case it might also be an interesting field for the printing inks industry. What do you think? You can read the blog post at: http://blog.drupa.com/solar-cells-printed-paper.

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