Discovery could “help cut the cost of solar energy”


solar energy

A team of scientists at the University of Sheffield in the UK have become the first to fabricate perovskite solar cells using a spray-painting process – a discovery they claim could help cut the cost of solar electricity.

Experts from the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have previously used the spray-painting method to produce solar cells using organic semiconductors.

Efficient organometal halide perovskite-based photovoltaics were first demonstrated in 2012 and the university says they are now “a very promising new material for solar cells as they combine high efficiency with low materials costs”.

solar energy

The scientists said that the spray-painting process wastes very little of the perovskite material and can be scaled to high-volume manufacturing, similar to applying paint to cars and graphic printing.

Lead researcher Professor David Lidzey said: “There is a lot of excitement around perovskite-based photovoltaics.

“Remarkably, this class of material offers the potential to combine the high performance of mature solar cell technologies with the low embedded energy costs of production of organic photovoltaics.”

He explained that while most solar cells are manufactured using energy-intensive materials like silicon, perovskites, by comparison, require much less energy to make. By spray-painting the perovskite layer in air the team hope the overall energy used to make a solar cell can be reduced further.

Prof Lidzey added: “The best certified efficiencies from organic solar cells are around 10 per cent. Perovskite cells now have efficiencies of up to 19 per cent. This is not so far behind that of silicon at 25 per cent – the material that dominates the world-wide solar market.

“The perovskite devices we have created still use similar structures to organic cells. What we have done is replace the key light-absorbing layer – the organic layer – with a spray-painted perovskite.

“Using a perovskite absorber instead of an organic absorber gives a significant boost in terms of efficiency.”

The Sheffield team found that by spray-painting the perovskite they could make prototype solar cells with efficiency of up to 11 per cent.

Prof Lidzey said: “This study advances existing work where the perovskite layer has been deposited from solution using laboratory scale techniques. It’s a significant step towards efficient, low-cost solar cell devices made using high volume roll-to-roll processing methods.

“I believe that new thin-film photovoltaic technologies are going to have an important role to play in driving the uptake of solar-energy, and that perovskite-based cells are emerging as likely thin-film candidates.”


Westinghouse wins Olkiluoto pump contract


Westinghouse Electric Co has won a deal worth more than €40m from Finland’s Teollisuuden Voima Oyj to deliver 12 advanced reactor internal pumps for the boiling water reactors at Units 1 and 2 of Olkiluoto nuclear plant.

Westinghouse Electric Sweden will be responsible for managing the overall project, as well as installation and commissioning.

Westinghouse will partner with KSB Aktiengesellschaft for the manufacturing and testing of the pumps and valves, including a full-scale test which will be performed by Toshiba in Japan. The internal pumps are part of the main circulation circuit that provides the rotation of water through the reactor core. Each reactor vessel has six internal pumps. Installation and testing is scheduled during the 2016, 2017 and 2018 maintenance outages.


AUMA unveils actuator position transmitter


A new electronic position transmitter designed to simplify end position adjustments for actuators has been developed by AUMA.

The EWG is compatible with its predecessor, the RWG, which ensures rapid replacements and retrofits.

AUMA says that advantages provided by the EWG include continuous recording of the valve’s current position, and transmission as an analogue 0-20 mA or 4-20 mA signal to the control system. Inverse operation is also possible while valve position detection is contactless and avoids wear. The company explained that “should a power failure occur, the EWG reliably recognizes the current valve position, even if the device has been operated via the handwheel during the outage period. “


MHI hails high efficiency rating of new gas engine



Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has developed a 2 MW, 16-cylinder high-speed gas engine which is claims has achieved “one of the world’s highest power generation efficiency ratings in a high-speed gas engine”.

MHI says that the new engine “offers power generation efficiency exceeding 44.7 per cent, one of the highest ratings for a high-speed gas engine for power generation and cogeneration applications”.

Demonstration testing using a prototype of the new engine is due to begin this month (September) and MHI said that ultimately it is targeting commercial production of the engine for applications including distributed generation, regular generation and cogeneration, and emergency generation during times of disaster.

MHI said that the latter has become increasingly important following the Japanese earthquake of March 2011.


First transformers from Power Machines-Toshiba joint venture


Power Machines-Toshiba High-Voltage Transformers has completed the manufacture of its first products – two transformers with voltage rating of 110 kV and capacity of 63 MW each.

The transformers will be operated at a new production facility belonging to Power Machines in the Metallostroy Industrial Area in St Petersburg, Russia. The equipment has successfully passed type and acceptance tests and, in the short term, specialists from the joint venture will begin supervised installation, startup and commissioning works. According to Andrey Pishchikov, director general of PMTHVT, “the plant’s specialists were able to work out the entire transformer manufacturing cycle, from design through production stages, including all types of tests.”


PW Power Systems in Latin American first


PW Power Systems (PWPS), part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has won a contract with Argentinian power company Generación Frías to provide an FT4000 SWIFTPAC gas turbine unit – the first time the FT4000 SWIFTPAC has been deployed in Latin America.

PWPS says the new FT4000 SWIFTPAC generator package “produces the highest output of any aero-derivative engine while maintaining high efficiency”.

The FT4000 engine is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PW4000 derivative gas generator and offers a 60 MW-120 MW package of peaking and baseload power.

The engine is designed for simple-cycle, combined-cycle, or cogeneration applications. The SWIFTPAC design is a cost-effective solution for flexible, high-power density needs across the globe, the company said.

PWPS president Peter Christman said the FT4000 SWIFTPAC was designed “to satisfy the growing demand for reliable and efficient gas power plants around the world”.


Morgan targets wind turbines with slip rings



Morgan Advanced Materials Electrical Carbon has launched slip rings which it says are ideal for use in wind turbines.

The company said the slip rings “can reduce downtime and improve the life of equipment while reducing maintenance time and costs”. According to Morgan, the slip rings inhibit harmful dust intrusion and contamination and increase the dielectric strength, and can also be specially engineered to improve airflow, which reduces the amount of thermal buildup.

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