Transparent solar films will enable building glass to become energy harvesters that smoothly integrate into a building's design.
Heliatek is currently working with glass and other building material manufacturers to include its solar film technology in their products. "Our solar films offer unique and compelling key benefits for all kinds of building integration applications. Thus, our business model is to be the leading supplier of customized solar films to the building and construction material industry. They will integrate our solar films as energy harvesting components into their products," comments Thibaud Le Séguillon, CEO of Heliatek.
The ultra-thin solar films by Heliatek lend themselves perfectly to the integration between glass. The transparency level as well as the color can be tuned to suit the customers' requirements. Measurements by SGS, an accredited and independent testing facility, have confirmed that Heliatek's lab cells still offer an efficiency of 7 % at a light transmission level of 23.5 %. Currently, the company can produce a transparency level of up to 40 % in its laboratories in Dresden, Germany, and sees the possibility to increase this to 50 % when the transparent solar films will be supplied to the building industry with the launch of the next production line in 2014.
SGS had previously confirmed in another measurement campaign the superior low light and high temperature performance of Heliatek's cells compared to traditional solar technologies. At an irradiation of only 100 W/m² the efficiency is 15 % higher compared to the standard efficiency measured at 1,000 W/m². The cell efficiency also remains constant with rising temperatures in contrast to traditional solar technology, which efficiency drops by 15 % to 20 % at elevated temperatures. Dr. Martin Pfeiffer, co-founder and CTO of Heliatek, adds: "Our thin and lightweight solar films can be integrated directly into various kinds of building materials, so there is no need for separate mounting structures. As the film maintains its efficiency at high temperatures, unlike traditional PV technologies, no cooling is required. Similarly, its low light capabilities mean that the orientation and angle of the film is not critical and it maintains its efficiency even when cloudy, north-facing, or in the morning and evening."
Heliatek recently announced a joint development agreement with RECKLI, a world leader in the manufacture of elastic molds for concrete façades, to integrate its solar films onto concrete building walls. This will enable vertical concrete walls to become highly efficient solar energy harvesters without the need for supporting structures or cooling mechanisms. A first concept study of this new application is exhibited by Heliatek at Intersolar EUROPE in Munich, Germany, from June 13 to 15, in hall A6, at the Wirtschaftsförderung Sachsen joint booth no. 160.
Heliatek's organic solar film technology:
The key to Heliatek's success is the family of small organic molecules - oligomers - developed and synthesized at its own lab in Ulm, Germany. Heliatek is the only solar company in the world that uses the deposition of small organic molecules in a low temperature, roll-to-roll vacuum process. Its solar tandem cells are made of nanometers-thin layers of high purity and uniformity. This enables the company to literally engineer the cell architecture to systematically improve efficiency and lifespan. This technology is very similar to the well-established OLED technology (organic LEDs) except that it operates in reverse, taking in light to create electricity. This gives Heliatek access to readily available manufacturing machines, giving it a fast track to reliable, volume production.
Heliatek was spun-off in 2006 from the Technical University of Dresden (IAPP) and the University of Ulm. The company is the global leader in the development of organic photovoltaics (OPV) based on small molecules and the manufacture of organic solar films. Heliatek maintains a total staff of some 80 specialists at its facilities in Dresden and Ulm, Germany. Investors in Heliatek include leading industrial and financial companies such as BASF, Bosch, RWE, and Wellington Partners. Research and development work, as well as the installation of production technology, has been funded by the Free State of Saxony, the BMBF (Federal Ministry for Education & Research), the BMWi (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology) and the European Union. Heliatek is currently working on its first roll-to-roll manufacturing line installed in Dresden, Germany, to go in production in the third quarter of 2012. It has also kicked off a third financing round to raise €60 million from current and new investors for a new roll-to-roll 75 MWp production line.