Credit: SPECIFIC, Swansea University
Scientists at SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University, have found a way to replace the toxic, unsustainable solvents currently needed to make the next generation of solar technology.
Printed carbon perovskite solar cells have been described as a likely front runner to the market because they are extremely efficient at converting light to electricity, cheap and easy to make.
A major barrier to the large-scale manufacture and commercialisation of these cells is the solvents used to control crystallisation of the perovskite during fabrication: this is because they are made from unsustainable materials and are banned in many countries due to their toxicity and psychoactive effects.
SPECIFIC’s researchers have discovered that a non-toxic biodegradable solvent called γ-Valerolactone (GVL) could replace these solvents without impacting cell performance.
GVL’s list of advantages could improve the commercial viability of carbon perovskite solar devices:
- It is made from sustainable feedstocks
- There are no legal issues in its use around the world
- It is suitable for use in large-scale manufacturing processes
- It is non-toxic and biodegradable
Carys Worsley, who led the research as part of her doctorate, said:
“To be truly environmentally sustainable, the way that solar cells are made must be as green as the energy they produce. As the next generation of solar technologies approaches commercial viability, research to reduce the environmental impact of large-scale production will become increasingly important.”
Professor Trystan Watson, research group leader, added:
“Many problems need to be resolved before these technologies become a commercial reality. This solvent problem was a major barrier, not only restricting large-scale manufacture but holding back research in countries where the solvents are banned.
We hope our discovery will enable countries that have previously been unable to participate in this research to become part of the community and accelerate the development of cleaner, greener energy.”
The research was made possible with funding from the UKRI Global Challenge Research Fund SUNRISE project and through funding of the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, Innovate UK, and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
It was published in Energy Technology
Notes to editors:
Swansea University is a world-class, research-led, dual campus university offering a first-class student experience and has one of the best employability rates of graduates in the UK. The University has the highest possible rating for teaching – the Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2018 and was commended for its high proportions of students achieving consistently outstanding outcomes.
Swansea climbed 14 places to 31st in the Guardian University Guide 2019, making us Wales’ top ranked university, with one of the best success rates of graduates gaining employment in the UK and the same overall satisfaction level as the Number 1 ranked university.
The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results saw Swansea make the ‘biggest leap among research-intensive institutions’ in the UK (Times Higher Education, December 2014) and achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University, soaring up the league table to 26th in the UK.
The University is in the top 300 best universities in the world, ranked in the 251-300 group in The Times Higher Education World University rankings 2018. Swansea University now has 23 main partners, awarding joint degrees and post-graduate qualifications.
The University was established in 1920 and was the first campus university in the UK. It currently offers around 350 undergraduate courses and 350 postgraduate courses to circa 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The University has ambitious expansion plans as it moves towards its centenary in 2020 and aims to continue to extend its global reach and realise its domestic and international potential.
Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit http://www.
For more information:
Kevin Sullivan, senior press officer, Swansea University [email protected]
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