Solar glass that can turn the bright stuff flooding our windows directly into the electricity running, well, practically everything in our lives, has long been a kind of Holy Grail in green building tech. Such glass hasn’t been affordable enough to penetrate the market – but New Energy Technologies is working to remedy that. The Columbia, Md., company recently announced that the researchers working on its SolarWindow product have fabricated a working window prototype using a faster process for applying its solution-based coatings.
The company says this process presents the prospect of rapidly scaling up the size of the its SolarWindow while applying its electricity-generating coatings onto glass at faster speeds – key factors in its drive to “aggressively advance the world’s first-of-its-kind technology towards commercial launch” (i.e., take over the green building world). That’s a big claim, but it’s par for the course for the company, which has put out 23 press releases (and counting) this year announcing advances, technology debuts, accelerated developments, new patents and the like.
On the SolarWindow, the company gives the impression that it is well on its way toward its grand goal, claiming to have succeeded in achieving the ability to “spray” its electricity-generating coatings directly onto glass (rather than “printing” them on, a more time-consuming process), and moreover having developed a process to do so at room temperature and pressure, further cutting costs. New Energy Technologies says this new, faster model of application preserves a critical ability to manufacture the SolarWindow in non-controlled environments.
“Today’s faster and improved scale-up application breakthrough marks a significant leap forward in our SolarWindow evolution from advanced research towards commercial product development,” explained John A. Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies, in a statement. “We’re not at the mercy of cumbersome and expensive temperature and pressure sensitive systems often utilized in the manufacture of conventional and thin-film solar photovoltaic products.”
New Energy said its new solution-coating technique has already been demonstrated as compatible with roll-to-roll (R2R) high-speed and high-volume fabrication methods, potentially enabling very-large scale manufacturing. As the company tells it, compared to the first generation of such glass, room temperature and ambient pressure R2R manufacturing promises lower labor costs, decreased capital equipment expenditures, higher product quality, a reduced carbon footprint and improved environmental and occupational control.