ONAMI Team Wins Major DoE Nanomanufacturing Award

October 31 2008

An ONAMI Microproducts Breakthrough Institute team led by Dr. Dan Palo of PNNL has won a $2M Nanomanufacturing award from the U.S. Department of Energy for Microchannel-Assisted Nanomaterials Deposition. The multi-disciplinary project team includes collaborators from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oregon State University, CH2M Hill, and Voxtel Inc.

The primary objective of the project is to develop a nanomanufacturing process which will reduce the manufacturing energy, environmental discharge, and production cost associated with current nano-scale thin-film photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing approaches. The secondary objective is to use a derivative of this nanomanufacturing process to enable greener, more efficient manufacturing of higher efficiency quantum dot-based photovoltaic cells now under development. The work is to develop and demonstrate a scalable (pilot) microreactor-assisted nanomaterial processing platform for the production, purification, functionalization, and solution deposition of nanomaterials for photovoltaic applications. The system proposed aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Increase overall yield of raw PV thin film material (amount deposited/amount consumed)
  • Reduce energy consumption for thin-film deposition processes by changing the fundamental manufacturing method
  • Reduce energy associated with the synthesis and dispersion of monodisperse PV quantum dot materials, Reduce or eliminate organic solvent use in the process
  • Avoidance of nanomaterial handling issues (agglomeration/deagglomeration) by coupling the production and deposition processes
  • Increase control over deposition of PV materials in film and nano-particulate form, thereby enabling the production of higher efficiency PV nanofilms having multiple energy threshold structures
  • Establish the nanomaterial production processes at a scale, and with appropriate attributes, that enable facile insertion into high-volume manufacturing lines.

Phase I of the project focuses upon improvement of modular processes and devices for PV production. Efforts will target scale-up of the microreactor-assisted deposition of PV nanofilms as well as the synthesis, purification, and functionalization of PV quantum dot nanoparticles.

Phase II of the project integrates the modular efforts in Phase I to scale-up the microreactor-assisted deposition of PV nanoparticles.

The improved manufacturing processes will result in cheaper more efficient photovoltaic devices that will subsequently enable broader utilization of solar energy.

The total project cost is $2.4M including matching funds from ONAMI and other sources.

The DoE announcement, through its National Energy Technology Laboratory (headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA - with a major facility in Albany, OR) may be found at: http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/press/2008/081010-Advance_Nanomanufacturing.html

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