Ampulses low-cost manufacturing process deposits crystalline silicon onto a flexible metal foil and is protected by over 60 patents.
Silicon is the most heavily-researched and understood material system in the world. It is abundant, stable and non-toxic. Manufacturing costs and prices of crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic (PV) modules have dropped dramatically in the last few years making PV evermore affordable. However, we must further dramatically reduce the cost of modules, and especially of turn-key PV systems, to make solar a significant global source of energy.
As the slides below outline, Ampulse's next generation c-Si PV manufacturing technology combines already commercialized technologies from two national labs - Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) - to remove significant process steps from the c-Si PV manufacturing process. Equipment, material, labor and energy savings are significant.
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The key to growing thin mono-crystalline is cubic crystal orientation of the substrate that matches that of crystalline silicon. ORNL's RABiTS process, originally created for superconductors, processes copper foil to have the required grain orientation. Ampulse's heteroepitaxial (growth of crystals on a substrate of a different material) was the world's first for c-Si.
By creating cells directly from silane, Ampulse eliminates the sizable Reacting, Casting and Sawing manufacturing steps, as well as some of the cell processing steps. Material utilization is high, equipment, labor and electricity costs are low.
The texturing step increases the number of times light bounces between the highly reflective copper foil and the textured surface, making cells less than 10 microns thick perform like cells dozens of times thicker.
Framed, glass modules currently dominate the market, and Ampulse cells can "drop in" and significantly reduce their cost. These traditional modules will continue to play an important role in solar, but a flexible PV cell that is inherently insensitive to moisture (and thus can be packaged in flexible materials that are affordable) opens up other applications that have historically been challenging. Flexible modules can literally eliminate tons of aluminum, steel and glass from projects, saving resources and money, if they have good efficiencies, prices, and longevity. Similarly, PV roof shingles, at the appropriate price, durability, and efficiency, perform a dual purpose on residential roofs and will make PV an integral part of our housing.
Other PV technologies achieve high efficiency, low BOS or low cost at the expense of one or two of the others. Ampulse combines these critical attributes.
To see a succinct one-page summary of Ampulse advantages, please click here.