Metal substrate mounted flexible dye sensitised semiconductor solar cells

Lead Research Organisation: Bangor University
Department Name: Sch of Chemistry

Abstract

More solar energy falls on the Earth's surface every day than the whole of humankind would consume in 27 years (i.e. 10,000 times our needs). To harness this potential and provide a reliable and economic carbon free source of electricity is however a non trivial problem. Dye sensitised semiconductor cells (DSSCs) based on sensitised nanocrystalline titania sandwiched between transparent conducting oxide glass have been developed with efficiencies of up to 11%.The current barriers to DSSCs are cost, manufacturability and durability. Low cost photovoltaic (PV) coatings in the modern built environment promise great financial/environmental benefits, potentially competing with mainstream energy sources. Our novel approach will study dye-sensitised titania photovoltaics in polymer coatings on strip steel, providing a large area solar collector. Our aim is breakthrough low cost PV surfaces, using cost effective materials and rapid/continuous coil coating manufacturing. Corus Colors coil coating facilities produce 1,000,000 T/yr of painted steel products; two thirds of which ends up on roofs. This equates to approximately 100 million m2 of organic coated strip steel (OCS) roofs. The average amount of UK solar irradiation is 900 kW.hr/m2/yr. If the light-to-electricity efficiency of the PV coating is 6%, 100 million m2 of PV coated roofs with an integrated photovoltaic capacity would produce 5400 GW.hr of electricity. This equates to 600 MW of conventional power capacity or over 2400 MW of a renewable source such as onshore wind power. Considering that this amount of roofing is added to the UK annually, the opportunity for large scale PV energy production is very significant.The continuous fabrication of DSSC's on strip steel raises significant new scientific challenges. These are broadly in four key areas: (1) developing strongly adherent and active sensitised nanostructured titania layers on metal substrates suitable for high speed application, (2) developing a suitable electrolyte which eliminates volatile components and associated sealing issues, (3) optimising collection efficiency and counter electrode design and (4) durability and compatibility of materials to ensure a reasonable operational life in external exposure, including in particular the development of suitable barrier layers to prevent corrosion of the steel substrate. The project brings together leading researchers in the field of dye sensitised solar cells (Imperial) and photoelectrochemistry (Bath), materials deposition and surface chemistry (Bangor) and steel coating development (Swansea). Critical to the success of this ambitious programme is the support of the World's second largest producer of coil coated materials, Corus Colors. The assembled partnership has the capability to deliver a unique solution to cost-effective passive generation of electricity from the walls and roofs of buildings and provide novel mechanistic insights into the fundamental photoelectrochemistry of metal mounted DSSCs.
 
Description Scaling up solar cell manufacturing means that flexible substrates must be used to enable roll-to-roll manufacturing. In this project, we studied the use of flexible materials (metals or plastics) as substrates for dye-sensitized solar cells. We worked on 2 mains aspects; rapid device manufactruirng and making devices more efficient.
Exploitation Route We developed low temperature sintering which would be useful for the manufacture of other electronc devices (e.g sensors), low temperature platinisation (useful for making catalysts), new dyes and fast multiple dyeing (useful for any product which relies on colour or surface treatment).
Sectors Chemicals,Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description The low temperature sintering has undergone pilot line trials. The low temperature platinisation has been tested commecially and has undergone long-term durability testing. We are currently negotiating with a Company to test ultra-fast multiple dyeing.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

 
Description PhD funding for Moneer Mohsen
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Iraqi Government 
Sector Public
Country Iraq
Start 09/2009 
End 08/2012
 
Description Proof of concept funding for fast dyeing
Amount £54,000 (GBP)
Organisation Welsh Assembly 
Department Welsh Government A4B programme
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2010 
End 01/2011
 
Description Proof of concept funding for low temperature platinisation
Amount £53,000 (GBP)
Organisation Welsh Assembly 
Department Welsh Government A4B programme
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2010 
End 02/2011
 
Description Proof of concept funding for low temperature sintering
Amount £55,000 (GBP)
Organisation Welsh Assembly 
Department Welsh Government A4B programme
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2010 
End 02/2011
 
Description SPECIFIC IKC
Amount £465,673 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I019278/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2011 
End 06/2016
 
Description Solar Photovoltaic Academic Research Consortium (SPARC)
Amount £287,185 (GBP)
Funding ID R31-740 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2010 
End 03/2013
 
Description Tata Steel 
Organisation Tata Steel Europe
Department Tata Steel Colours
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Research data and new concepts for device manufacturing
Collaborator Contribution Materials supply, research data and discussions. Pilot line trials
Impact In 2012 and 2013, I spent time working with Tata Steel and SPECIFIC staff to develop a technology roadmap for solar cell technology.
 
Title Low temperature platinisation for dye sensitized solar cells 
Description Low temperature, aqueous method to platinize counter electrodes for dye sensitized solar cells 
IP Reference PCT/EP2010/062648 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2010
Licensed No
Impact Commercial testing and lifetime trials have been carried out on this technology providing favourable data
 
Title Low temperature sintering of dye sensitized solar cells 
Description Catalyst to enable low temperature sintering of binder-containing pastes for dye-sensitized solar cells 
IP Reference PCT/EP2010/052953 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2010
Licensed No
Impact Successful pilot line trials have been carried out with this technology.
 
Title Solar cells with multiple dyes 
Description Ultra-fast multiple dyeing for dye sensitized solar cells 
IP Reference PCT/EP2011/059551 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2011
Licensed No
Impact Assigned to Swansea University. Currently under investigation for exploitation.
 
Description Developments and the importance of the manufacturing of 3rd generation photovoltaics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was an invited talk about innovation in solar cell technology to launch the Welsh Festival of Innovation at the SPECIFIC IKC at the Baglan Bay Innovation Centre, Swansea University on the 1st June 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Invited talk (Supersolar PV Hub Meeting) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 30 postgraduate students from the Supersolar PV Hub attended a Research Methods for Solar PV II: Focus on PV Devices event at Liverpool University on 5th April 2016. I presented an update on the current status of dye-sensitized and perovskite solar cells.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2016
 
Description Presentation at EU-PVSEC conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presentation provoked interest from several industrial companies which subsequently led to joint research work.

Joint research was carried out to trial some of our research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010