Solar Printing Tech Lures Florida Company

On the Move Systems (OMVS) of Tampa, Fla., claims an expertise in “the automotive aftermarket electronics sector,” but it’s solar that the company, with a freshly hired CEO, is now looking to ride into the future. The company has announced an agreement with Texas Southern University to develop “the technology to affordably print solar panels using inkjet technology and new materials.”

“We believe revolutionary new application techniques for solar power-generating materials, such as printing, spraying and silk screening, are the key to making clean, efficient energy affordable to all,” OMVS  CEO Patrick Brown said, and he’s got a point there.

solar printing

image via Oregon State University

Just in the last few months we’ve seen a spate of solar-printing stories. First, engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) said they’d found a way to create successful CIGS solar devices with inkjet technology that would reduce raw material by 90 percent by creating precise patterning on the substrates and lower cost of solar cell production.

solar printing

image via MIT

Then came MIT’s announcement that it found a way to print a photovoltaic cell on a piece of paper – a piece of paper that would still function as a solar cell “even when folded up into a paper airplane.”

solar printing

image via CISRO

And then there was the initiative stemming from a patented technology developed by scientists at CSIRO, Australia’s equivalent of the U.S. National Laboratories, and the University of Melbourne. There, researchers said they’d found a way to “print” tiny, semiconducting nanocrystals onto a variety of surfaces. To help develop this technology Down Under, Australia said it was ponying up $1.7 million to launch a $7.2 million project called “Printing solar cells – A manufacturing proposition for Australia.”

In its announcement, OMVS said that under the agreement with Texas Southern, the university will design, test, assembly and revise “innovative solar materials, printer heads, base materials and commercial applications, while OMVS will provide the necessary funding.” OMVS said the university had named Bobby L. Wilson, L. Lloyd Woods Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Shell Oil Endowed Chair of Environmental Toxicology, as the project’s principle investigator.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.