• 17 hours PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 19 hours Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 21 hours Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 22 hours Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 23 hours Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 24 hours Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 1 day Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 1 day New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 1 day Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 1 day Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 1 day Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 2 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 2 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 2 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 2 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 2 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 2 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 2 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 2 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 2 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 3 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 3 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 3 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 3 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 3 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 4 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 4 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 4 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 4 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 4 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 4 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 4 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 4 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 4 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 5 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 5 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 5 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 5 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 5 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 5 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
The U.S. Shale Play To Watch In 2018

The U.S. Shale Play To Watch In 2018

The original U.S. shale gas…

Are Oil Markets Becoming Immune To Geopolitical Risk?

Are Oil Markets Becoming Immune To Geopolitical Risk?

The geopolitical risk premium in…

Controlling Crystal Growth Can Lead To Cheap, Efficient Solar Energy

Controlling Crystal Growth Can Lead To Cheap, Efficient Solar Energy

Among solar energy researchers, there’s nothing new about “perovskites” -- crystals that absorb both visible and infrared light and convert sunlight into electricity.

They’ve been around since 2009. But though they’re inexpensive to produce, scientists have been unable to manufacture uniform crystals that will provide consistent performance in commercial applications.

Perovskites can be manufactured – printed, actually – at much lower temperatures than are needed for conventional silicon films, which makes them cost efficient.

Timothy Kelly, a chemist at Canada’s University of Saskatchewan, tells the MIT Technology Review that they already can convert 17.9 percent of solar energy into electricity, nearly as good as existing commercial films made from silicon and cadmium telluride.

But the crystals made so far are showing wildly inconsistent performance. “When you make 10 different perovskite cells, you get 10 different efficiencies,” says Prashant Kamat, a chemist at the University of Notre Dame. “It’s frustrating.”

The source of the problem is the variety of sizes of the crystals in different solar cells. Kamat explains that the boundaries between crystals of different sizes are like walls blocking the flow of electricity.

Now researchers in Switzerland and South Korea say they’ve solved that problem.

Michael Graetzel, a chemist at Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and Nam-Gyu Park, a chemist at Sungkyunkwan University in Korea, say they’ve brought uniformity to the manufacturing process. They’ve reported the results in the Aug. 31 issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Graetzel and Park says perovskite crystals for use in solar cells are made first by coating a surface with lead iodide, which dries, then coating it with methyl ammonium iodide. When this second layer dries, the compounds from both layers form perovskite crystals.

The Swiss and Korean scientists say their research has led to a method to control various steps in the process, including the concentrations of the two solutions, thus leading to consistently larger perovskites that are necessary for an efficient solar cell. In fact, the efficiency of the cells they’ve created is 16.4 percent, nearly as high as perovskites’ previous peak efficiency.

But their work isn’t done. Park says humidity causes the materials in perovskites to leak methyl ammonium, so they either have to coat perovskite solar cells with a moisture-proof sealant or find substitutes for the crystals’ ingredients.

Further, toxic lead is used in manufacturing the perovskites, and the researchers would prefer to find a substitute for that. One promising candidate is tin.

Finally, Graetzel says he’s not satisfied with the perovskites’ current efficiency of 16.4 percent. He believes that its performance can be boosted, even beyond the previous ceiling of 17.9 percent. “I think 20 percent efficiency should be possible in the near term,” he says.

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com



Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Lisa Bell on September 12 2014 said:
    I hope it works. Solar technology has so much to give. We just have to keep reaching and improving.

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News