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Perovskite Solar Cell Production Gets Environmentally Friendly

Research project aims to develop printing production method of perovskite solar cells eliminating lead compounds

1 min read
Perovskite Solar Cell Production Gets Environmentally Friendly
Photo-Illustration: Holger Röhm

While perovskite has begun to branch out into transistors and nanowire lasers, it already has a stellar reputation as an alternative to silicon in photovoltaics.

However, perovskite’s rise to glory in the field of solar cells has not come without a few hiccups. One of the key problems has been that the production processes for making the material involves some toxic lead compounds.

Now researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are leading a three-year project dubbed “Nanosolar” that both seeks to address this issue and to reduce material consumption and thereby production costs.

“We are looking for a way to apply non-toxic materials,” said Alexander Colsmann of KIT, in a press release.

Colsmann and his colleagues believe that if they can tackle the enviromental concerns, the prospects for perovskite-based solar cells will be greatly improved, expanding their potential from serving just in large-scale energy production, but also in de-centralized power supply arrangements.

The key to achieving this de-centralized power supply role will be to develop perovskite-based thin-film photovoltaics. “Thin-film solar cells have a very homogeneous appearance and, hence, can be used as facade cladding, for instance,” said Colsmann in the release.

To develop their new thin-film process the researchers will be examining the entire gamut of a pervoskite-based solar cell production process: from the synthesis of the materials through the fabrication of a fully functioning solar cell.

The researchers will be producing the perovskite solar cells with a printing and coating process used in the manufacture of organic solar cells. If perovskite solar cells can meet the production costs of organic solar cells and reach the energy conversion efficiency of silicon-based solar cells, then perovskite indeed will deserve its very promising reputation in the field of photovoltaics.

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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