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NREL Commercialization Project Accelerates PV Technology Innovation

May 2, 2008

Crystalline silicon cells continue to dominate the market for photovoltaic (PV) modules and systems. To support the commercialization of these PV devices, NREL researchers continue to reduce their manufacturing costs and increase their efficiency, but also work to develop thin-film PV cell technology from both silicon and alternative materials.

A recent collaborative research effort between NREL and Ampulse, a venture-backed company with funding from Battelle Ventures and its affiliate, Innovation Valley Partners, will take silicon technology one step further with a new innovative approach.

“The partnership with Ampulse aims to make inexpensive silicon PV film with the efficiency of today’s crystalline silicon cells,” said NREL Researcher Howard Branz. “It also will help Ampulse, which focuses on film PV on flexible substrates, to enter the marketplace with commercially viable products.” 

“We are confident that the NREL team has the combined talent, skill, and experience to create potentially breakthrough products with market-leading efficiencies and advantageous economics,” said Glenn Kline, Innovation Valley Partners general partner and Ampulse acting CEO. 

The NREL and Ampulse partnership is evolving through a $500,000 cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA). The CRADA has received support from the Department of Energy’s Technology Commercialization Development Fund (TCDF) Program, which has provided NREL with $4 million to establish such commercialization efforts.

“Without TCDF Program support, this commercialization opportunity would not have happened,” said Tom Williams, NREL technology transfer office director. “In addition to the program funding,” Williams said, “the flexibility and speed possible under the TCDF were essential to moving the collaboration forward with all the key stakeholders.”

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which has a similar work-for-others agreement with Ampulse, will participate with NREL and Ampulse on this collaborative effort.