Tandem Solar Cells Must Be Efficient and Sustainable

At the very same time, hazardous and unusual products will be changed with sustainable options.

Over the previous years, solar batteries have actually progressed and more affordable. Less expensive due to the fact that mass production in the East has actually lowered rates. Much better due to the fact that scientists and organisations have actually enhanced the technology to enhance the quantity of energy drawn out per hour of sunlight.

So does it even make good sense to continue performing research study into solar cell technology?

The significant research study task Altcell recommends that it does. In the task, scientists will integrate 2 kinds of solar batteries to produce a so-called tandemcell The objective is to increase the variety of rays recorded from the Sun and produce an option to silicon cells which presently control the marketplace. At the very same time, scientists wish to prevent utilizing hazardous and unusual components.

Thin movie made from sustainable products

A tandem cell includes a silicon cell on the bottom and a thin-film cell on the top.

Silicon is a component discovered in sand and it is inexpensive, steady, and sustainable and can attain a high level of energy performance, which is a system of measurement utilized to measure just how much of the Sun’s rays the cell can transform into electrical energy. Presently, most solar batteries are made from pure silicon and have an energy performance of about 20 percent.

Scientists are now attempting to enhance energy performance by integrating silicon cells with a thin movie including the product CZTS.

CZTS is a fairly brand-new sustainable product including copper, zinc, tin, and sulphur. These components are discovered in abundance in nature and are for that reason really inexpensive.

CZTS presently has a tested energy performance of around 10 percent, however scientists anticipate to be able to attain roughly 20 percent energy performance with the product. If they are successful in integrating CZTS and silicon, they will– in basic terms– have actually developed a tandem solar cell from sustainable products that is two times as efficient as a silicon solar cell.

Sustainability obstacles

In numerous other locations worldwide, scientists are working to establish tandem cells, however they usually attempt to integrate silicon and the thin-film product CIGARETTES, which, to name a few components, includes indium and gallium. These are components which the DTU scientists wish to prevent:

“CIGS is efficient, but using it in the production of solar cells is not sustainable in the long run, because indium and gallium are toxic and rare elements, of which the prices have increased dramatically in recent years. Consequently, we try to only use readily available materials,” states Alireza Hajijafarassar, who is a PhD trainee at DTU Nanotech.
Among the significant obstacles of the task is to produce a layer that will function as a barrier in between the silicon cell and the CZTS thin movie.

“Silicon is extremely sensitive to metallic contamination, particularly copper, which is used in CZTS. Thus, we need to create a layer that will act as a barrier between the two cells that will separate the materials from each other while still letting light rays pass through,” states Alireza Hajijafarassar.

Photo: Jesper Scheel PhD trainee Alireza Hajijafarassar is dealing with developing the layer that will function as a barrier in between the silicon cell and the thin movie.
Image: Jesper Scheel.

Another difficulty is to increase the energy performance of CZTS– an obstacle currently handled by DTU Fotonik 6 years back.

At That Time, the objective was to establish a pure CZTS solar cell as a competitive option to silicon cells.

Nevertheless, the marketplace cost for a regular 6 kW silicon solar cell system, consisting of setup, has actually reduced from around DKK 140,000 in 2011 to DKK 80,000

The decline in cost put a spoke in the wheel for the scientists’ strategy of making pure CZTS solar batteries competitive. As a result, they are now trying to integrate the 2 innovations rather.

“If we succeed in combining the CZTS with the silicon cell, we can create an alternative to pure silicon cells that can be sustainably produced and has a higher energy efficiency than previous standards,” states Alireza Hajijafarassar.

Enthusiastic objectives

Altcell is a broad cooperation task in between scientists from numerous universities and organisations. Among business included is the driver business Haldor Topsøe, represented in the task by 3 of their scientists.

“Just like with our main activity, catalysis, the quality of thin-film solar cells very much depends on the atomic structure of the materials contained within the solar cells. Thus, we believe that we can make a difference in this specific area,” states Rainer Küngas, who is a primary researcher at Haldor Topsøe.

Photo: Jesper Scheel As part of the task, the silicon solar batteries, that make up the bottom of the tandem solar batteries in advancement, are produced by the scientists themselves.
Image: Jesper Scheel.

In addition to 9 scientists from DTU and the 3 from Haldor Topsøe, the Altcell cooperation includes teachers from Aarhus University and Nanyang Technological University along with agents from 2 other organisations. Rainer Küngas highlights that the task needs a vast array of professional understanding:

“This project has ambitious goals, there is no doubt about that. A functional CZTS/silicon tandem solar cell will be a scientific and technological breakthrough. We have a strong team which has the will to cooperate and a wide variety of skills and backgrounds that complement each other. We have already produced some very promising results,” he states and continues:

“We are trying to solve two major challenges that have never been solved before. First, to improve the efficiency of the CZTS cell, and secondly, to integrate the CZTS cell with a silicon-based bottom cell. However, we have a few ideas and methods that have not previously been tried by others, which we hope will help us come to a solution.”

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