DuPont, DOE join forces to develop moisture-barrier materials for flexible thin-film PV

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DuPont and the U.S. Department of Energy will collaborate in a $9 million solar research program to develop ultrathin moisure-barrier material solutions for flexible thin-film photovoltaics. Some $3 million of the funding for the three-year effort comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with DuPont contributing the remaining $6 million.

The program addresses one of the key challenges facing the commercialization of flexible TFPV panels for use in building-integrated PV and other consumer applications: the development of rugged, relatively inexpensive materials that will prevent moisture from seeping into and degrading the active areas of the devices and do so effectively for at least 10 years.

Ultimately, the DOE hopes that this funded program will help enable the broad, commercial production of flexible PV modules that are durable and lightweight with higher efficiency. The initial focus of the program is on copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) PV modules; however, the technology could be leveraged into other PV technologies and potentially into other industries.

DuPont is one of about 25 technology companies nationwide receiving Recovery Act grants, which total $22 million to research or demonstrate projects that can help speed the use of solar photovoltaics to generate electricity. The federal agency's goal is for the solar technology to contribute equally to the power grid by 2015.

“Addressing energy security is a monumental challenge that takes collaborations and partnerships– no one sector or organization can do it alone,” said DuPont's VP/chief sustainability officer, Linda  Fisher. “Today marks the latest in a string of partnerships DuPont and the U.S. Department of Energy has collaborated in advancing sustainable energy innovations, including biofuels and photovoltaics. This particular technological advancement brings potential to accelerate the use of solar energy by making it more affordable, flexible and efficient in its application. We are prepared to move from the lab to pilot-scale manufacturing.”

DuPont expects to nearly triple its annual photovoltaic sales to more than $1 billion in 2012 based on strong fundamentals for long-term revenue growth in the photovoltaic solar energy market, combined with the company's ability to deliver new technologies to the industry.

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