P14421: Next Generation Smart PV Panel

Interview with Jasper Ball

8/29/13 3:30 pm

What was your motivation behind starting this company?

I read a newspaper article on loss of energy production by PV cells due to coverage by snow. I then came across a second article on the same issue. I always wanted to get involved in the field of renewable energy, so this seemed like a good area to get involved in.

Did you have previous experience in renewable energy or solar power?

I was previously an electrician for 25 years. I didn't have an alternative energy background but I read around two magazines a day that are about the solar industry. I also stay updated in international news.

In the PRP we can see that you're involved with Intrinsiq. Is it necessary for us to utilize their inks or can we look into other options?

I'm definitely open to other options. I've only recently become acquainted with Intrinsiq and I don't have a full understanding of the applications. Therefore I'm not even sure if they have all of the capabilities that will be needed to complete the project. They use an electro-plating system that I'm not familiar with and I'm not sure how it works.

Novacentric is another company that I've been working with. Therefore I'm more inclined to focus on working with them. I have an understanding of their system, and I know they have the capabilities to complete all applications that we would need for the project.

However, I'm still willing to work with Intrinsiq if you want to. However they seem to utilize a thin, plastic-wrap type material, and I don't know if if will be able to bond to the cells. The material may also limit the use of heat. Other conductive inks use heat.

It's important that the final result is replicable. It's also important that the equipment needed to add the ink layer can be installed in existing manufacturing plants. An ideal scenario would be utilizing a robotic arm to apply the ink, then bonding the ink to the glass, after which the glass will go into the existing assembly line. We don't want to modify any existing equipment.

Long term, we eventually want to sell the PV cells internationally. We've already been working with many different people and organizations, including the DOE in Oakland, and Dr. Joshua Pearce at MTU. (Dr. Joshua Pearce) Shawn Lessord from Renewable Rochester will help us to integrate the project into a system. We eventually want to be making the cells with the conductive ink in large-scale quantities for large companies such as Wal-mart and Whole Foods, etc.

Additionally, if the timeline allows, we want to add the design and integration of a sensor into phase 1 of the project. This sensor will detect whether there is snow on the panel.

What is our approximate budget for the project?

I've set aside about $1,000 for now, but that number is definitely negotiable. I can get you guys the money you need.

Dr. Cormier: I can get you access to whatever ink you need.

Jasper: We don't want the ink to entirely cover the surface of the cells though, because that will inhibit power production. You need to fully understand how a solar cell produces energy.

Can you elaborate on the plans for testing?

Basically, you'll put the ink on the panels, and there will be a rubber membrane under the glass. We'll use a thermometer to see how well it works. SBM Solar in North Carolina will take the glass and turn it into a solar panel. Even if we don't have a sensor developed yet, we'll still be able to test the panel.

What is the overall goal of the project?

The goal isn't to melt the snow but rather is to prevent accumulation. We'll need to raise the temperature from around 28 degrees to around 34 degrees in order to create a liquid layer.

You can find information on the company at http://www.advancepowersolutions.com.

We want to integrate the panels for use in not only large-scale scenarios but small-scale cases as well. For example, we want to be able to put our coating on small cells that are used for things such as road signs, that can be as small as 6" by 6". We want homeowners to use our product as well. If you look this issue up on Youtube, you can see that it's a real issue that causes problems for homeowners and businesses alike.