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Boeing to mass-produce record-breaking 39.2 percent efficiency solar cell

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November 24, 2010

Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab has announced it will mass-produce a 39.2 percent efficiency ...

Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab has announced it will mass-produce a 39.2 percent efficiency solar cell

When it comes to solar cells, everyone is chasing the highest conversion efficiency. Although we’ve seen conversion efficiencies of over 40 percent achieved with multi-junction solar cells in lab environments, Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab is bringing this kind of efficiency to mass production with the announcement of its C3MJ+ solar cells which boast an average conversion efficiency of 39.2 percent.

As far back as 2006 Spectrolab was achieving conversion efficiencies of over 40 percent in the lab with its high-efficiency multi-junction concentrator solar cells and it reached a peak of 41.6 percent with a test cell last year, setting a new world record. The company’s newest terrestrial concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cell, called the C3MJ+, uses essentially the same technology as its record breaking test cell and follows on from its C3MJ solar cell in production since mid-2009 which boasts a conversion efficiency of 38.5 percent. The C3MJ+ solar cells

"Given the new cells' close similarity to our existing production cells, we believe that our current C3MJ customers will be able to easily upgrade for more efficiency," said Russ Jones, Spectrolab director of CPV Business Development.

Spectrolab claims the title of the world’s leading supplier of solar cells for satellites with its cells supplying power to around 60 percent of satellites currently in orbit, as well as the International Space Station. Boeing hopes to transfer that success to the terrestrial solar cell market with the new high-efficiency solar cells that are expected to be available from January. And it won’t be resting on its laurels. It expects Spectrolab will achieve a 40 percent average production efficiency for terrestrial solar cells in 2011.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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15 Comments

Major breakthrough in Solar Cell Efficiency. Congratulations

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
24th November, 2010 @ 08:54 pm PST

It's good to see steadily improving efficiency that is translated into commercial products. The question we must all ask therefore, is what will be the installed cost per watt?

Jeff Holden
25th November, 2010 @ 05:13 am PST

Why is it that past patent applications were slapped with a secrecy order? How can we ever get efficient solar panels or power systems for the public? They don't want green eco systems they want to keep selling oil and controlling everyone. We are being held back in every technical area. Look at the terms for restricting patent applications in 1971:-

"Thus, the 1971 list indicates that patents for solar photovoltaic generators were subject to review and possible restriction if the photovoltaics were more than 20% efficient. Energy conversion systems were likewise subject to review and possible restriction if they offered conversion efficiencies %u201Cin excess of 70-80%.%u201D

The Federation of American Scientists has published an extremely important article entitled Invention Secrecy Still Going Strong. It comes from a mainstream organization and corroborates information The Orion Project has presented. We are constantly asked, "If better energy systems exist, why are they not available for public use?" The following article addresses one reason: The systematic suppression of energy inventions by abuse of the national security provisions of U.S. law. This means that thousands of inventions have been suppressed- and more than that number through national security orders not issued via the patent process. This is why the Orion Project has a specific strategy to develop and bring out to the public such energy inventions: One that stands up to these abuses. With your help we can do it!

Invention Secrecy Still Going Strong

Source: FAS Project on Government Secrecy

http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/2010/10/invention_secrecy_2010.html

October 21st, 2010 by Steven Aftergood

There were 5,135 inventions that were under secrecy orders at the end of Fiscal Year 2010, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office told Secrecy News last week. It%u2019s a 1% rise over the year before, and the highest total in more than a decade.

Under the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, patent applications on new inventions can be subject to secrecy orders restricting their publication if government agencies believe that disclosure would be %u201Cdetrimental to the national security.%u201D

The current list of technology areas that is used to screen patent applications for possible restriction under the Invention Secrecy Act is not publicly available and has been denied under the Freedom of Information Act. (An appeal is pending.) But a previous list dated 1971 and obtained by researcher Michael Ravnitzky is available here (pdf).

Most of the listed technology areas are closely related to military applications. But some of them range more widely.

Thus, the 1971 list indicates that patents for solar photovoltaic generators were subject to review and possible restriction if the photovoltaics were more than 20% efficient. Energy conversion systems were likewise subject to review and possible restriction if they offered conversion efficiencies %u201Cin excess of 70-80%.%u201D

One may fairly ask if disclosure of such technologies could really have been %u201Cdetrimental to the national security,%u201D or whether the opposite would be closer to the truth. One may further ask what comparable advances in technology may be subject to restriction and non-disclosure today. But no answers are forthcoming, and the invention secrecy system persists with no discernible external review.

MonacoJim
25th November, 2010 @ 05:30 am PST

mass-produce ? we need them here on the ground, sound like there just for space use ... Jay

Jay Finke
25th November, 2010 @ 06:09 am PST

The thing that sucks about all these breakthroughs is that they never reach the retail stores. I've been waiting forever for the thin film solar panels. Where are they? I have my suspicions, cough, cough, oil lobby, cough.

Billy Robb
25th November, 2010 @ 07:25 am PST

I applaud this achievement. But when I read this I wonder why there is no mention of real cost.

Cost and the amount of resources used, and the importance of how easy it will be to recycle the elements and the length of time the solar cells will last?

Why aren't these questions covered by the author? Every solar article should either give these answers or say we couldn't get any information on these areas.

How much will a system cost for the average household?

What are the resouces used? Especially silicon? Heavy metals.

Is the product easily recycled? We don't want to make a new problem.

How long will the solar cells last? Do they last longer or do they last shorter than the current ones?

These questions should be covered by the author. It's just basic logic.

But I still applaud the possibility that this is something.

froginapot
25th November, 2010 @ 09:00 am PST

Whats the BIG DEAL , Solar window is 3 times more efficient & can be sprayed on virtually any surface. THAT IS A MAJOR BREAK THROUGH.

Cant wait to get some of those.

Kiwi

John M
25th November, 2010 @ 10:19 am PST

All I want to know is how soon will it be before China will be producing these new panels without paying any royalty to the patent owners?

Facebook User
25th November, 2010 @ 01:39 pm PST

Let%u2019s not get ahead of ourselves and put the cart before the horse. Everyone loves to beat up on the Oil Companies as if they are the only ones who have something to lose with a reduction in oil consumption; the Government (in particular the DOT) has more to lose than the Oil Companies. Think about it; every gallon of gas sold has a %u201Ctax%u201D on it. That money goes a long way in maintaining roads that the cars are driving on (including electrics cars); where will that money come from when the oil is gone? The Government does not give up money without having a replacement source in place. It%u2019s already a problem now with cars getting more efficient (less gas; less tax) and here in Florida we have seen our annual auto registration fees doubled 2 years ago to try and make up for the short fall. Oil is intricately entrenched in our modern society and eliminating our dependency on it is akin to a surgeon separating conjoined twins; one swift cut is not going to work.

kelvint63
26th November, 2010 @ 08:24 am PST

Kelvint63, That comment you made, sounds like the ones that justified slavery in the South back in the eighteenth and 19th centuries. People are really brainwashed into being sysyem fodder. It is precisely this type of attitude that perpetuated the dark ages, the inquisition, slavery, the feudal system in Europe etc. We are talking about the government of the USA with more power that imaginable, and you really believe that the revenue can't be raised if the governmant wanted it to be raised. This government with emminent domain powers, with patriot law powers, Secrecy act powers, and you really believe that if less oil is used, the goverment can't find an alternative way of raising revenue. You are either a shill for the oil industry or someone who ate the lead paint off the wall when he was a kid.

nyc3287
26th November, 2010 @ 10:44 pm PST

about 2 yrs ago several articles appeared in scientific literature: nanocrystalline gold as a CATALYST, fully recoverable in the energy free production of hydrogen from water. does not include processes for handling and storage. as this was a lab/table top experiment, scaling up is of question. one of publications was "Science", a pub of the NSF,funded by our govt. but i cannot find reference to same!

oldealchemist
28th November, 2010 @ 02:24 am PST

Just want to echo Froginapot:

"Cost and the amount of resources used, and the importance of how easy it will be to recycle the elements and the length of time the solar cells will last?

Why aren't these questions covered by the author? Every solar article should either give these answers or say we couldn't get any information on these areas."

REAL REPORTING WILL ASK SUCH QUESTIONS EVERY TIME...NOT JUST REWRITE PRESS RELEASES.

tsvieps
13th January, 2011 @ 09:28 pm PST

The reason this will probably not be good news for the average person is that the solar cells are probably made from rare earth elements. This means they can be used in limited applications, like satellites, but there's not nearly enough to supply them for the average person's house.

Facebook User
26th January, 2011 @ 07:12 am PST

The current system for RV owners is over priced for more mature buyers that have the cash on hand to pay out for solar without thinking of any of the advances!

Basically they are being taken! Your right Jim about being held back! The government of the US is now a military controlled one that means no one in the public is receiving anything close to break through quality products be it a hair brush or pair of scissors!

Here in Europe the products people normally by aside from Solar panels are so flimsy and low grade quality one would think "how" have people been talked into cheaper products overall in all the shops as if they were a poor country like in Germany or France.

The product quality level in these two outstanding countries is very very low compared to when we were young!

So, expecting the new break through to come out in favor of the public seems further away than ever, sad to say, due to the greed of man & the lack of materials to make products for everyone on the planet as populations increase exponentially!

Thankfully, if you don't need too much power the existing solar panels seem to be able to do the job for now!

Eric Nueman
7th October, 2011 @ 05:53 pm PDT

I will for sure build portable solar panels with these cells if they can get the price in a reasonable range, even double the price of the current 18% efficient cell would work.

Ryan @ Portable Solar Power Systems

Ryan Brown
20th January, 2012 @ 10:04 pm PST
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