Development of light-weight, low-cost and high specific power organic solar modules with high radiation hardness
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
ABSTRACT: Solar arrays play a key role in the operation of spacecrafts and unmanned aerial vehicles. Traditionally, inorganic semiconductor based solar arrays have been used for space applications because of their highest efficiencies. However, these solar arrays have several major limitations like extremely high cost, low specific power and large stowage volume. Organic photovoltaic (OPV) modules offer a better alternative for space applications that need high specific power. OPV are low-cost, ultra lightweight, flexible, and can be made by a roll-to-roll process on flexible substrates. Also, due to their superior flexibility and rollability, OPV require a minimum of stowage space and can be inflated or unrolled for deployment. In this project, Solarmer Energy, in partnership with University of California, Los Angeles, and Analytical Mechanics Associates, proposes to develop lightweight, ultra-high power density OPV modules for space applications. At the end of the Phase I, the team will deliver flexible large area OPV modules (100 sq cm) with specific power density greater than 300 Watts/kg, module efficiency of 5%, and bend radius less than 1.5 inches. A deployment design will also be delivered for application of OPV modules in space. BENEFIT: This project will have significant educational, societal and scientific benefits. Solarmer"s collaboration with UCLA provides financial support for graduate students, and supports the development of clean energy technologies. Solarmer is a member of FlexTech Alliance, a center supported by the U.S. Army Research Lab, which is devoted to fostering the growth, profitability and success of the flexible, printed electronics supply chain. The U.S. currently lags behind Europe and Asia in deployment of printed electronics technology. The proposed project will accelerate the developments in OPV and will enable the manufacturing of the low cost solar cells leading to a homegrown clean energy manufacturing. One of the major societal benefits is the much needed jobs creation, especially in clean energy manufacturing. An OPV manufacturing plant will create about 100-200 new jobs, in addition to the hundreds of new jobs in related R & D, production development and system integration. Another important benefit of using OPV is the impact on the environment. Each 100 MW of installed OPV panels will save 80,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. Each 100 MW of OPV will also replace 300 tons of batteries that are discarded from portable electronics. In the long term, OPV aim to achieve grid parity with conventional power by 2017 and will truly revolutionize U.S. power infrastructure. Solarmer"s OPV modules are ideal for defense applications such as spacecrafts and UAVs for military operations, surveillance and reconnaissance. OPV can greatly improve the range and flight duration of UAVs by supplying additional power. Other military applications include portable solar chargers for soldiers for powering weapons, radios and GPS equipment in remote locations. OPV can reduce the weight of the batteries that a soldier needs to carry by up to fifty percent and allow troops to spend more time away from their bases.
Small Business Information at Submission:
VP of Technology Development
Research Institution Information:
Solarmer Energy Inc.
3445 Fletcher Avenue El Monte, CA 91731-
Number of Employees:
University of California, Los Angel
OI Industry Sponsored Research
11000 Kinross Avenue, Ste 200
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1406
Jeanne D. Pass