IBJNews

Purdue gets grant to develop cheaper solar cell

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Purdue University researchers are working to increase the efficiency of a new solar cell that they say could become a significant player in energy production.

A team led by chemical engineering professor Rakesh Agrawal is working with solar cells made from copper zinc tin sulfide. The compound known as CZTS is synthesized into nanocrystals that resemble a dark ink that can absorb light.

The ink is applied to specially coated glass squares, heated and applied with nanoelectronics so they can be used to turn sunlight into electricity, the Journal & Courier reported.

Graduate student Erik Sheets said the resulting solar cell is cheaper than silicon-based solar cells on the market.

Agrawal, whose lab was the first to make CZTS nanocrystals, said the focus of the work is to make the solar cell inexpensive and boost its efficiency.

The researchers have received a $750,000 grant from the Department of Energy for their work, which includes making a prototype that can be mass-produced at a low cost.

"The key aspect of our work is to make this inexpensive," Agrawal said.

Currently, the Purdue team's solar cells are one inch square and achieve only 8.4 percent efficient use of the sunlight energy. Agrawal said researchers aim to boost that to 15 percent.

To be competitive with other energy technologies, solar cells must be capable of generating terawatts, or trillions of watts, at a cost of 50 cents per peak watt of electricity, Agrawal said.

The Department of Energy predicts solar energy could provide 14 percent of U.S. electricity needs by 2030 and 27 percent by 2050 if those targets are met.

Graduate student Nathan Carter says he thinks solar power will be "a dominant player" in the nation's energy picture in coming years.

"I think we are going to move away from oil or any one (energy source) dominating 70 percent of energy consumption," Carter said. "It is going to be a much more cooperative effort between solar, wind, natural gas, biomass. But I think solar has the highest potential among any renewable energy."

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Evolution takes time
    Just as with earlier "internal combustion" engines, the evolution necessary to make any energy-producing device efficient takes time, money and creativity; Edison didn't do it right until after many attempts, and even then, additional time and creativity made the light bulb more efficient and less expensive;
  • Finally a Commons Sense Approach
    Obama's administration the (US Department of Energy) Should have done this long before squandering government money to solar manufacturing corporations who were on the verge of going bankrupt.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Aaron is my fav!

  2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

  3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

  4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

  5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...

ADVERTISEMENT