3M and NREL Partner on Solar Technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is working with the technology company 3-M to develop new thin-film photovoltaic, concentrating solar power and biofuel products.

The agreements between NREL and 3M, called Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), range from jointly identifying and developing critical aspects of renewable energy technologies, to accelerated testing of 3M designs and scaling-up successful prototype technologies for commercial production. The agreements last for at least one year.

 Areas of investigation and testing under the agreements include:

•    New moisture barrier films and flexible packaging for CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) thin film solar cells to increase module performance and reduce manufacturing costs

•    New reflective coatings to protect and enhance the performance of lower-cost mirrors used in concentrating solar power

•    New alternatives to ethanol biofuel distillation that will reduce energy and water use, and increase throughput in existing corn ethanol and future cellulosic ethanol production plants

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