Vermont startup joins partnership to commercialize perovskite solar


Verde Technologies, Inc., a Vermont-based company that focuses on the development of perovskite thin-film solar, announced an exclusive partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Northern Illinois University (NIU) to work toward the commercialization of perovskite solar cells.

NREL and NIU have been working together on advancing perovskite solar manufacturing. For example, they collaborated on a type of transparent sticky tape, which they say can be applied to a perovskite solar cell and will absorb any lead that is leaked from it. The tape, according to the scientists, can easily be integrated with existing encapsulation strategies, and was shown to absorb 99.9% of lead leaked from cells from that were severely damaged.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, perovskite solar cells have made rapid efficiency gains from about 3% in 2009 to over 25% today. While perovskite solar cells have become highly efficient in a very short time, a number of challenges remain before they can become a competitive commercial technology. Some of these challenges include stability and durability, power conversion efficiency at scale, manufacturability, and bankability.

By adding Verde’s manufacturing expertise, the collaboration among the three organizations aims to unlock the potential of efficient, safe, low-cost perovskite solar panels at an unprecedented scale.

“Many of the pieces of the puzzle needed for the commercialization of perovskite solar cells are likely already out there,” said Kai Zhu, NREL’s senior scientist. “It is now largely a matter of figuring out how to put the pieces together, with some tunings, in a stable, low-cost, scalable form factor.”

The partnership includes an agreement for rights to a portfolio of NREL’s breakthrough perovskite solar technologies, spearheaded by Zhu and NIU Chemistry Professor Tao Xu. NREL will take the lead on commercializing these technologies co-owned by both institutions. NREL and NIU will share any income or royalties generated by the technologies.

Verde is a University of Vermont start-up that was selected, along with CubicPV, to work on a center to commercialize perovskites. This effort is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. What Verde brings to partnership with NREL and NIU is its expertise in the development of a lead-sequestration layer that eliminates concerns of hazardous lead leakage while also preserving the structural integrity and power output of the solar cells.

“This set of technology will help to stabilize the photovoltaic performance of perovskite solar cells manufactured at Verde Technologies and minimize any potential leakage of toxic lead content from perovskite solar cells,” Xu says. “I am excited to see that Verde is taking NREL/NIU’s technologies toward commercialization in the emerging perovskite PV market.”

Verde is making use of an encapsulation technique that was developed at NREL. When applied to the entire solar cell, the active encapsulation forms a seal that enhances stability and performance by reducing moisture sensitivity.

“Our team could not be more excited to have signed this exclusive deal with NREL and to be collaborating with some of the top minds in solar, Dr. Kai Zhu and Dr. Tao Xu,” said Skylar Bagdon, CEO of Verde. “This agreement perfectly exemplifies Verde’s commitment to collaborating with the community and taking a holistic view of module design that addresses all the key factors of stability, manufacturability, safety and low cost.”

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