The US Department of Energy has pledged $150,000 to fund a partnership between Natcore Technologies and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to commercialize NREL’s black silicon.
Natcore, which recently moved into a lab at the Kodak facility in Rochester, N.Y., uses a patented liquid phase deposition to build solar cells and will combine that technology with NREL’s black silicon.
Black silicon works to achieve greater efficiency by etching pores into the cell, reducing its reflective surface and allowing the cell to absorb more of the sun’s energy. It increases energy production on cloudy days and in the lower lights of early morning and late afternoon.
Natcore aims to increase solar panel energy output from 3 to 10 percent over the course of a day without using tracking technology. The company, in its Collaborative Research and Development Agreement with NREL also states that it aims to reduce production costs by 2 to 3 percent.
NREL holds the world record for a cell made with black silicon at 18.6 percent, according to a release from Natcore. But the lab used cumbersome and expensive passivation technology that required thermal oxidation.
Natcore CEO Chuck Provini wrote in an email that he’s proud of the company’s partnership with NREL.
“I feel the importance of [this partnership] is not just the fact that the DOE will be contributing resources, but more importantly that Natcore will be entering into a collaboration with perhaps one of the most respected and knowledgeable photovoltaic facilities in the world,” Provini writes.
The company is sending three scientific teams to NREL in Golden, Colo., where they will be able to use NREL equipment to test materials and develop black silicon.
“NREL invented black silicon five years ago,” said Natcore senior vice president Tom Scarpa. “They knew it would be good. But they couldn’t get it to a point where they could commercialize it.”
This partnership presents tremendous opportunity for both parties, he said.
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