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  • Ferro Receives $1M Solar Grant
Jan 2010
CLEVELAND, Jan. 15, 2010 -- Ferro Electronic Materials of Cleveland, a materials supplier for fabricating photovoltaic solar cells, was awarded a $1 million grant by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) to develop advanced durability sealing systems for solar cells.

The company will engineer a vitreous frit system to provide reliable, air- and water-tight seals for second- and third-generation thin-film solar cells. To develop, test and commercialize the technology, it will collaborate with the Edison Welding Institute, StrateNexus Technologies and the Ohio State University, all of Columbus. If successful, the new sealing materials will allow the company to solve a significant problem with second- and third-generation thin-film solar cells.

As with all solar cells, thin-film cells require a hermetic seal to operate reliably for their expected lifetimes of 20 years. Problems can arise because most current thin-film solar cell modules are designed to be sealed with organic sealants that can lose their hermeticity in time, especially if exposed to sunlight containing UV radiation. The problem is aggravated further by exposure to daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations that can weaken the seal.

Ferro has proposed to replace the organic seal with technology similar to its glass frit sealing materials currently being used in thick-film solar cells that are field-proven to last beyond the cells’ expected lifetimes. The technical challenge, however, is that thin-film cells are extremely temperature sensitive, and the current frit technology requires high firing temperatures to create the seal. To accommodate the challenge, the company plans to create a glass frit material that can create the required seal at lower temperatures and that can be activated by laser-based and ultrasonic energy systems.

Funding for the project is provided through the Ohio Third Frontier Photovoltaic Program, which supports research and development that addresses the technical and cost barriers to commercialization of photovoltaic components and systems in Ohio. The awards are contingent upon State Controlling Board approval.

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