Solar Efficiency Enhancing Nanoporous Material

The algae-based silica material with unique light manipulating properties, with the potential to boost solar panel efficiency with at least 4 %.

Our material’s nanoporous design

Our material is the nanoporous silica shell of a microscopic algal group called diatoms. The scientific name of diatom shells is “diatom frustules”. Diatom frustules consist of pure silica with hydroxyl groups on the surface. They have a transparent nanoporous structure with several layers of regular pores in decreasing size creating a funnel structure. This inorganic material has evolved to efficiently down-convert light, trap visible light and block UV radiation in order to protect the diatom cell and improve the photosynthetic capacity.

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Our material for solar panels

Our material can be added to the encapsulant or in a coating on the glass of the solar panel. A low coating coverage of the material resulted in a 3-4 % solar panel efficiency enhancement in indicative flash tests. These results have been verified by an independent Swedish research institute (RISE) and in tests with potential customers. Furthermore, blocking the UV radiation can reduce degradation of solar panels over time. By adding higher concentrations of the material and taking the UV radiation blocking effect into account, efficiency gains of 10 % should be expected based on the science of diatom frustules’ interaction with light.

Our material is as an inert, inorganic silica material with proven durability over hundreds of years. The small differences in particle size do not affect the size of the pores. The pore sizes depend on the diatom species used but within a single species, the pores are regular. We have chosen to cultivate a type of diatoms that have a pore structure suitable for solar panel efficiency enhancement.

Diatom shells originate from the sea and are thereby completely safe for oceans and sea life. It is of great importance today to protect our fragile oceans from harmful and unnatural chemical substances that endanger life in the oceans.

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About Swedish Algae Factory

Swedish Algae Factory was founded 2016 based on years of research on the unique shell structure of diatoms. Our research team has over 100 years’ combined experience in diatom research and engineering and is led by our cofounder, Professor Angela Wulff. Professor Wulff, as part of her research at Gothenburg University, collaborates with world-renowned physicists and biologists. Our backers include the Swedish Energy Agency, EU LIFE and a former president of Akzo Nobel, Jan Svärd.

Swedish Algae Factory is the only large-scale producer of diatom frustules globally. We have patents pending for the cultivation method and our main applications of the material. We cultivate diatoms with the best proven performance and durability, in a cost efficient and resource efficient production process. Today we produce our material in Kungshamn on the Swedish West Coast and will during 2020 scale up our production to meet customer demand.

Our Research

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Simon Nilsson, Technical Lead Solar

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