Natcore Technologies is on the cusp of making its first sales. The New Jersey company is testing its liquid-phase deposition technology on solar cells from several solar manufacturers in North America, Europe and China. “If they meet the specs these people want, I think the timeline will be now,” said Natcorepresident and CEO Chuck Provini.
This is the last step on Natcore’s path to commercialization. The company is made up of a collection of entrepreneurs and scientists who wanted to revolutionize the solar industry.
From the beginning, the company’s principals were looking to this end. They developed a more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to build solar cells and deposit anti-reflective or other layers on traditional solar cells using a chemical bath rather than the standard heat treatment.
Natcore announced an agreement to develop the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’ “black silicon” technology at the end of 2011. Black silicon reflects less light than standard silicon solar cells, making them more efficient and increasing their energy output significantly.
Five solar panel manufacturers have commissioned Natcore to research use of its process and machinery in their production.
While Natcore has caught some heat over its agreements with overseas businesses rather than domestic ones from mainstream media, trade publications have made businesses aware of the technology, Provini said.
“We’ve had a lot of people coming to us, saying ‘we think your technology can help us,’” Provini said. “Sometimes they’re related to solar and sometimes they’re not.”
The agreement with NREL launched the company into the spotlight and made solar manufacturers in the US and abroad look to the start-up. Several of them are considering buying Natcore’s machinery. They just need to know it will work for their specific applications first.
“These people are manufacturers,” Provini said. “They don’t have resources for a lot of Research and Development. We can do it for them.”