» What does SolarPrint do?
SolarPrint has developed and patented technologies which can produce energy, not just from the sun, but from any light source. Specifically, the company specialises in the area of dye sensitised solar cell (DSSC) technology - the next generation of photo-voltaic technology - which involves the production of power-generating solar cells that can be printed and applied to a range of different surfaces.
» When was SolarPrint set up?
SolarPrint was set up in 2008, with the support of Enterprise Ireland. The three co-founders of the company were Dr. Mazhar Bari, Chief Executive Officer, Andre Fernon, Chief Financial Officer and Roy Horgan, Business Development Director.
» What precisely is photo-voltaic technology?
Photo voltaic (PV) technology is a form of solar technology that can convert natural light into electricity. Production of PV technology worldwide has been doubling every two years, compounding an average by c.48 per cent each year since 2002, making it the world's fastest-growing energy technology.
» What is dye sensitised solar cell technology?
Dye sensitised solar cell (DSSC) technology is the latest generation of solar power technology. Dye sensitised solar cells can be printed on to strips of material and can then be applied to different surfaces, from glass to plastic to metal. The investment costs for production are lower than for other forms of solar technology. In particular, the materials required to produce the solar cells will become cheaper in large scale production through economies of scale.
» How does it work?
The solar cell consists of two transparent, conducting electrodes. Light enters the cell through the working electrode, which is covered in a nanocrystalline titanium dioxide (TiO2) layer. This TiO2 layer has been soaked in a dye complex which is capable of releasing electrons upon light absorption much like chlorophyll does in plants.
» What are the likely applications?
DSSC technology can potentially be used in the consumer electronics, wireless technology, sensors, medical devices, automotive and construction industries. For example, SolarPrint is part of an EU-funded consortium working with car manufacturer Fiat on the design of solar panels that can be incorporated into the roofs of vehicles as a supplementary source of power.
» How big is the market for DSSC technology?
Estimates of the size of the market opportunity vary however in the consumer electronics and wireless sensors markets alone powering solutions is a multi billion euro industry.
» When will SolarPrint begin to manufacture solar cells commercially?
SolarPrint expects to begin commercial manufacturing of dye sensitised solar cells by mid to late 2011.
» Does SolarPrint plan to expand its operations overseas?
SolarPrint has already built up a network of potential customers and business partners in North America and Asia.
» Does SolarPrint partner with other organisations in the development of DSSC technology?
Yes. SolarPrint works closely with the Solar Energy Conversion Research Cluster, set up last year in University College Dublin and headed by Professor Don McElroy, of the university's School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering. SolarPrint also partners with overseas research institutions, such as the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan.