Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Online education in solar cell manufacturing

Greetings from the Australian national University in Canberra, where Keith McIntosh, from company PV Lighthouse, is speaking on "PV Factory: Online education and research in solar cell manufacturing". He demonstrated  "PV Factory", an on-line application used at UNSW which students can use to design solar cells and see how they would perform, using a "Virtual Production Line" (VPL).

UNSW and QESST (at Arizona State University) and PV Lighthouse are working to make the UNSW Virtual Production Line generally available:

The project wil create a software platform called the Virtual Production Environment (VPE). The VPE will be a free online resource for the PV industry that will facilitate education and R&D by allowing users to (i) simulate the steps of a solar cell production line, (ii) access libraries of PV information, (iii) contribute to an integrated model of solar cell manufacturing, and (iv) evaluate innovation in terms of manufacturing cost. It will initially incorporate UNSW's Virtual Production Line for screen-printed crystalline silicon solar cells, used for several years in the UNSW undergraduate and postgraduate courses, SOLA3020, PV Technology & Manufacturing and SOLA9006, Solar Cell Technology and Manufacturing.

Interestingly Keith said that their server software generates text which is sent to the student's web browser and turned into graphics using Javascript. Also he showed some statistics as to how often the students access the system during their course, which shows, not surprisingly, that use increases just before assignments are due.

Keith is now working on how to have new research in solar cell making integrated into software which can be quickly made available to students and the industry. I suggest this could significantly reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of solar cells. This is very important to combating global warming and making energy available to developing nations. This could also be applied beyond the PV industry, to computer chip fabrication.

No comments:

Post a Comment