small plans: nanotechnology for the building industry

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Solar startups shine at NSTI conference

Solar startups took center stage at today’s Nano Science and Technology conference in Boston.

Solar represents less than .5% of today’s energy market, but that’s about to change. The solar market is $7 billion, growing 30% annually, and with crude oil prices going through the roof, that percentage is sure to grow.

Nanotechnology figures to be a big player in the new solar market, as two startups pitching to investors today demonstrated.

Damoder Reddy presented a technology pioneered by startup Solexant that captures infrared (IR) radiation typically not captured by traditional silicon-based solar cells. 45% of solar radiation is IR, explained Reddy, and today's solar technologies don't capture it.

The company uses IR photon absorbing nanostructures and brodband thin film solar cells that can be combined with traditional solar cells to create hybrid cells.

The technology could be used to create window films that generate energy and reduce heat gain, said Reddy.

David Waimann presented OrionSolar Photovoltaics’ plan to produce low-cost dye cell photovoltaics.

Dye cells can be much less expensive than silicon cells, potentially reducing the cost per peak watt from $2 to 65 cents.

Waimann and his colleagues think the biggest market for solar will be the do-it-yourself (DIY) market because of the high cost of installation. They propose to cut the cost of DIY installations in half with their 'concertina' folding panels. (photo OrionSolar)

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