Startup claims its algae-based coating boosts solar panel efficiency by 4%
Gothenburg-based biotech startup Swedish Algae Factory has claimed that its algae-based product, Algica, can boost solar panel efficiency by four percent.
Founded in 2014, the startup aims to produce and distribute an organic material that can replace synthetic materials in various industries. Swedish Algae Factory claims that Algica can perform more efficiently than synthetic materials.
The Swedish startup describes its production process as circular, meaning that its facility contributes to lessening energy waste. It also claims that the production of Algica can trap carbon dioxide — eight kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of Algica — which is responsible for global warming.
As for increasing solar panel efficiency, the Swedish Algae Factory explained that Algica has several properties that can enhance solar panels’ mechanics. The diatom shells of algae capture and transmit light, making them ideal anti-reflective coating for a solar panel.
Swedish Algae Factory technical lead solar Simon Nilsson also said that Algica could block ultraviolet light, meaning that it can extend the life span of a solar panel. Nilsson added that the Rice Research Institute of Sweden had tested these properties for solar panel uses.
“What we envision for silicon solar cells and also for other cells is that we create a coating on top of the solar panel itself,” Nilsson said. “The outermost layer going from solar coating on glass or polymer is placed on top of the solar panel.”
In addition to regular solar panels, Algica is also suitable for dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs). Algica can be mixed into the panel’s active layer to build a longer light path and increase the probability of creating electricity. According to the startup’s research with the Chalmers University of Technology, it can increase the efficiency of DSSCs by 36 percent.
Nilsson explained that his company’s current focus is to increase the durability of Algica coating in solar panels. The startup plans to extend the coating’s lifetime to almost 30 years while being in direct exposure to normal weather conditions.
At the moment, Swedish Algae Factory’s algae-based solar panel coating is not yet commercially available. The startup aims to build partnerships with companies in Sweden and across Europe to execute its plans.
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