An important breakthrough has been achieved at Tata Steel’s Shotton site in North Wales, where a development partnership between Tata Steel and Dyesol has produced the world’s largest dye sensitised photovoltaic module.
The module is over 3 metres in length and approximately 1 square metre in area and represents an important step in the development of large-scale micro energy generation capability within the infrastructure of buildings.
Creation of the module has shown the potential, using continuous printing and coating processes, for scaling up the production of steel strips onto which a dye sensitised photovoltaic coating has been printed. Produced as a single length of coated steel rather than separate cells connected together, the breakthrough brings closer to commercial realisation the two companies’ ambitions to develop a manufacturing process that can produce long roofing panels with an integrated dye sensitised photovoltaic function.
Paul Bates, Operations Manager of the Tata Steel Colors PV Accelerator, commented: “The Tata Steel and Dyesol team has worked hard to translate laboratory concepts to pilot-line scale, and has successfully produced hundreds of metres of printed steel and polymer film that go into our demonstration product.”
Dr. Mikael Khan, Lead Scientist of Dyesol UK Ltd, commented: “This module demonstrates the feasibility of a continuously printed dye sensitised product. The materials and processes we have created move the process from the production of single cells into the continuous production, from rolls, of lengths of finished modules that would be ideal for roofing applications.”
Dye sensitised photovoltaic modules have unique performance characteristics, being particularly tolerant of lower light levels and temperature variations, providing benefits in real-world conditions. Developing the ability to print the PV coating directly onto steel roof cladding would enable the modules to be produced in large volumes cost effectively and integrated into building envelopes.
Following the successful completion of the first three years of their joint development project in June this year, Tata Steel and Dyesol recently announced that they will be increasing the number of personnel from 30 to 50 as the project moves into the pre-industrialisation phase.
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Additional Notes for Editors
- Established in 1907 as India's first integrated steel company, Tata Steel Group is one of the world’s top ten steel producers with annual crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tonnes. It is the world's second most geographically diverse steel producer, with operations in 26 countries and a commercial presence in more than 50. Tata Steel Group has over 80,000 employees across four continents and is a Fortune 500 company.
- The European operations of Tata Steel (formerly known as Corus) comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. With main steelmaking operations in the UK and the Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, material handling and other demanding markets worldwide.
- Tata Steel Colors is a business within Tata Steel in Europe engaged in the manufacture and sale of pre-finished steel products to the construction, manufactured goods and domestic appliance sectors. The business has 6 sites in 4 countries, 3 of which are in the UK. The business headquarters and largest manufacturing site are at Shotton in Deeside, North Wales.
- Dyesol Limited is a global solar technology company and in August 2005 was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX: DYE). Dyesol manufactures and supplies a range of dye solar cell products comprising equipment, chemicals, materials, components and related services to researchers and manufacturers of dye solar cells.
- Dye solar cell (DSC) technology can best be described as “artificial photosynthesis” using an electrolyte, a layer of titania (a pigment used in paint and tooth paste) and ruthenium dye deposited on glass, metal or polymer substrates. Light striking the dye excites electrons which are absorbed by the titania to become an electric current many times stronger than that found in natural photosynthesis in plants. DSC works well in all light conditions.