Konarka Technologies is starting as the first company worldwide to manufacture organic solar cells for building-integrated applications. In the consumer sector, the innovative solar cells of the American manufacturer have been used successfully for many years. For their integration into buildings, the technology leader was able to win over the cable manufacturer Lapp Kabel GmbH, the industrial concerns Bayer Sheet Europe and Thyssen Krupp, Bischoff Glastechnik, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) as partners.
Thin, Light, and Flexible
In the organic modules, a dye gives off electrons. The flow of current results from an electrochemical reaction. “Our product is really green and completely recyclable,” explains Alexander Valenzuela, Konarka’s Vice President Business Development Europe. For the organic cells can be made--in stark contrast to conventional modules--at low temperatures, thereby preserving both energy and resources. Konarka manufactures them like newspapers are made, with the so-called roll-to-roll process. The modules are thin, light, and flexible and can be integrated not only into glass and construction materials, but also into structures giving shade, foils, and textiles. For these modules, Lapp has developed a new connection box, the EPIC ® SOLAR MAP, which was recently exhibited at the Intersolar Fair. The connection box is welded, thus enabling it to be attached to the organic modules from Konarka in a fully automated manner.
Freedom of Scope for Planners and Architects
Semi-transparency, any color or color mixtures are possible. Since the solar cells also tolerate unfavorable irradiation angles and shadows, they lend themselves to building integration superbly.
This also convinced the strategic partners. “Konarka is an innovative company with a great potential for growth,” explains Guido Ege, Head of the System Products at Lapp Kabel. “In our companies’ expertise we complement each other very well.”
“In Lapp Kabel, Bayer Sheet Europe, Bishoff Glastechnik, and Thyssen Krupp, we have found partners with industrial approaches that we need to produce large numbers of pieces in a highly automated fashion--and that at the highest quality,” says Valenzuela. While Lapp will develop the entire connection technology for the modules, the other partners will integrate the organic cells into their construction materials. The Fraunhofer IWES will support the team by certifying and testing the construction products. The first pilot projects should begin shortly.
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