Advancements in solar technology have come a long way. Anyone who thinks solar is just a passing fad is under the wrong impression. In fact, solar power research has been with us for over 25 years, but like with many other forms of technology, it may not have been prevalent to us as it had been within the scientific and research arena such as space technology and exploration. Prominent scientists who are also part of management in a publicly traded company called Natcore Technology have utilized 25 plus years of their combined knowledge of space and terrestrial equipment research to lay the foundations to advancing solar technology that can be used here on Earth.
Under the scientific research team headed by both Dr. Andrew Barron and Dr. Denis Flood, Natcore Technology has developed an amazing solar process which eliminates the need of using vacuum furnaces and highly intensive heat that produces large amounts of carbon dioxide by replacing it with a chemical bath process they have called liquid phase disposition (LPD).
Generally speaking, the highest energy efficient solar cells have been reported to reach 22% commercially and around 40% within laboratory settings achieved by Spectrolab. Standard solar cells that are commercially available range between 15-17%, something Natcore can currently achieve without the need of the vacuum furnaces.
It should be noted that although the highest efficient solar cell of 40% can be reached within the laboratory setting it is not commercially available due to the high expense to achieve it, but is something that all solar cell companies are trying to reach commercially at a fraction of the cost.
Natcore’s LPD process uses mild chemicals in a self contained device roughly the size of a SUV called an Ar-box (anti-reflection box) which can coat up to 2500 cells within an hour. The Ar-box is self monitoring and replenishing system which uniformly coats silicon wafers, washes them, and controls the temperature of heat and cold to within +/-.05 degrees Celsius.
Once the chemicals have been cycled through the system, any residual can be utilized to make concrete. Theoretically speaking, the Ar-box is capable of coating silicon wafers of less than 250 mm which would typically either get warped or destroyed using the conventional heating method called chemical vapour disposition, or CVD for short.
Nevertheless, the present difficulty of being able to uniformly coat silicon wafers that are this thin is that it is not possible for any known equipment to be able to carefully handle them without the cells breaking.
Natcore’s objective is to deliver cost effective solar technology which will double the output and halve the current costs of the standard solar cells that are currently available in the market, with the focus of being the first to reach the highly sought after “grid parity” (the holy grail) a term used within the solar industry signifying that solar energy will be cost competitive with fossil fuels. Natcore strongly believes it will achieve this through the LPD process, as well as by utilizing a three juncture tandem solar cell which should reach cell efficiencies of between 30-40%.