Solar PV Film Powers Air and Space Vehicles

Iowa Thin Film Technologies, a manufacturer of integrated solar photovoltaics (PV) products for lightweight portable and durable remote applications, has formally launched its PowerFilm Air and Space Series products for solar-powering and recharging air and space vehicles.

Ames, Iowa – November 12, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The company believes their technological approach could be a “disruptive technology,” in other words something that could eventually, fundamentally change how things are done. The company said their PowerFilm, designed specifically for air and space power, is lightweight, durable and low cost, with the ability to reduce up to 90 percent the cost of photovoltaics (PV) for air and space power. Iowa Thin Film Technologies is working with Lockheed Martin (LMT) on the Pentagon’s High Altitude Airship (HAA) program. A completed high altitude airship would be powered by PV and used for U.S. border control, and could be used to monitor incoming enemy missiles and overseas combat zones. The prototype airship would be stationed at 65,000 feet (12 miles) and is planned to be about 500 feet long and 160 feet in diameter. The company also has a development program with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to continue to improve the low-cost, lightweight solar products for air and space applications. “Our products are well suited for air and space applications since they are lightweight, monolithically integrated, and can be supplied on a roll for easy integration,” said Dr. Frank R. Jeffrey, President of Iowa Thin Film Technologies. PowerFilm products are semiconductor devices deposited on a paper-thin, durable, flexible polymer substrate. PowerFilm solar panels are monolithically integrated which improves durability and reduces cost by eliminating the need for costly and failure-prone manual connection of individual solar cells, said the company. Modules are manufactured on the company’s proprietary roll-to-roll manufacturing technology platform. PowerFilm has a positive environmental profile: amorphous silicon is the semiconductor absorber layer, and it is cadmium-free. Iowa Thin Film Technologies has supplied PowerFilm to NASA for several projects, including the Mars Flyer prototype and fly-by-light demonstrations of unmanned aerial vehicles.
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