14 September 2009
Transparent Plastic Solar Cells
The Lowell, Mass.-based company on Tuesday said it has reached an agreement with Arch Aluminum & Glass to use Konarka's plastic solar cells in building materials, including windows.
A transparent solar cell Konarka hopes will be fitted into power-generating windows.
(Credit: Konarka)Under its Arch Active Solar Glass development, the company has built prototypes of windows with the solar cells between two panes of glass. The photovoltaic cells can be tinted different colors.
"It is energy-efficient and transparent with superior vertical performance and a subtle red, blue or green aesthetic. With these features, BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics) will no longer need to be confined to spandrel or overhead applications," Arch CEO Leon Silverstein said in a statement.
Konarka makes organic solar cells made from flexible plastic. Last fall, it opened a factory in Massachusetts to manufacture the cells which come off assembly lines as spools fitted with wires to carry electricity.
The advantage of these flexible cells is that they can be used for a wide range of applications, such as power-generating military tents, portable chargers for electronics, and sensors.
Konarka's factory is turning out red solar cells but has started making the transparent cells in limited runs for prototypes and development, according to a representative.
"The real key will be to see if they can make building-integrated products that can stand the weather for 20-plus years," clean-tech venture capitalist Rob Day from @Ventures told Greentech Media in December last year.