A team at Stanford University in the US have developed a high speed manufacturing process for perovskite solar cells.
The rapid-spray plasma processing technique uses two nozzles to make thin films of photovoltaic perovskite. One nozzle spray-coats a liquid solution of perovskite chemical precursors onto a pane of glass, while the other releases a burst of highly reactive ionized gas plasma.
This operates at 12m/minute and so can be part of a roll-to-roll manufacturing process. The resulting perovskite material has a conversion efficiency of 18 percent, which is high for large solar cells.
“This work provides a new milestone for perovskite manufacturing,” said Reinhold Dauskardt, the Ruth G. and William K. Bowes Professor in the Stanford School of Engineering. “It resolves some of the most formidable barriers to module-scale manufacturing that the community has been dealing with for years.”
“You can make a small demonstration device in the lab but conventional perovskite processing isn’t scalable for fast, efficient manufacturing,” said Dauskardt.
“Conventional processing requires you to bake the perovskite solution for about half an hour,” said researcher Nick Rolston. “Our innovation is to use a plasma high-energy source to rapidly convert liquid perovskite into a thin-film solar cell in a single step.”
“We achieved the highest throughput of any solar technology,” Rolston said. “You can imagine large panels of glass placed on rollers and continuously producing layers of perovskite at speeds never accomplished before.”
Next: Perovoskite roll-ro-roll manufacturing
“We want to make this process as applicable and broadly useful as possible,” said Rolston. “A plasma treatment system might sound fancy, but it’s something you can buy commercially for a very reasonable cost.”
The Stanford team estimated that their perovskite modules can be manufactured for about 25 cents per square foot, substantially less than the $2.50 or so per square foot needed to produce a typical silicon module.
Conventional silicon modules produce electricity at a cost of about 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. To compete with silicon, perovskite modules would have to be encapsulated in a weatherproof layer that keeps out moisture for at least a decade.
The research team is now exploring new encapsulation technologies and other ways to significantly improve durability.
“If we can build a perovskite module that lasts 30 years, we could bring down the cost of electricity below 2 cents per kilowatt-hour,” said Rolston. “At that price, we could use perovskites for utility-scale energy production. For example, a 100-megawatt solar farm.”
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