New perovskite solar cell research eliminates lead release while boosting efficiency

University of Manchester scientists sequester lead in solar panels 2-001

Perovskite solar cells have attracted interest because, unlike silicon solar cells, they can be mass produced through roll-to-roll processing. Additionally, they are light and colorful, with the versatility to be used in non-traditional settings such as windows and contoured roofs. One limiting factor thus far is the potential environmental risks. Perovskite solar cells contain lead, a cumulative toxin, and if the cells get damaged (say, in a hail storm), lead ions may leak.

Scientists at The University of Manchester looked to nature to find a way to mitigate that last part while also increasing cell efficiency.

“We embarked on this research as we were committed to eliminating an environmental risk,” noted David Lewis, Deputy Head of Department and Reader in Materials Chemistry. “That commitment has resulted in increasing both the sustainability and the efficiency of perovskite solar cells. We hope these dual outcomes will increase the viability for homes and businesses, worldwide, to host and use solar technology.”

[button link=”http://bit.ly/3cuKxF2″ bg_color=”#ffbc36”]IF YOU CAN MEASURE IT, YOU CAN IMPROVE IT
Click here to learn how to create new revenue streams from your O&M operations with the Mana Monitoring Platform.[/button]

How? Professor Brian Saunders and Dr. David Lewis devised a way to eliminate the lead release from broken cells using a bioinspired mineral called hydroxyapatite, a major constituent of human bone, to create a ‘failsafe,’ which captures the lead ions in an inorganic matrix. As a result, if cells are damaged, toxins are stored in an inert mineral, rather than released in the environment.

Bonus: In a dual success, The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded project found that through the addition of hydroxyapatite, the efficiency of perovskite solar cell increased to around 21%. This compares to around 18% efficiency for control cells with no added hydroxyapatite. An increased efficiency in panels means more energy can be generated and at a lower cost.

perovskite cell

The research team hope that the cells will bring forward the large-scale application of perovskite solar cell technology.  The research was reported in: ‘Bioinspired scaffolds that sequester lead ions in physically damaged high efficiency perovskite solar cells’ in Chemical Communications.

Have you checked out our YouTube page?

We have a ton video interviews and additional content on our YouTube page. Recently we debuted Power Forward! -- a collaboration with BayWa r.e. to discuss higher level industry topics as well as best practices / trends for running a solar business today.

Our longer running side project is The Pitch -- in which we have awkward discussions with solar manufacturers and suppliers about their new technology and ideas so that you don't have to. We discuss everything from residential rail-less deck attaching and home solar financing to large-scale energy storage value stacking and utility-driven new home solar + storage microgrids.

Tags:
  • -8
  • February 23, 2021 18:47:56

    The big thing about Perovskite solar cells is there’s a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to the actual solar cell.

    Keep in mind that the stability as if I remember correctly, PSC has had trouble with it in the past . Also, Lead is a big part of PSC and is a toxic metal substance.

    The Perovskite solar cells business is in a state where its lab improvements surpass earlier solar panel commercialization dispatch focuses. The big challenge is the how quickly the worked on assembling can scale-up for a given creation strategy to enter high-volume creation.

    Either way, Solar Panels continue to make an impact and the future for solar energy is extremely bright.