DuPont Home
DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions

DuPont to Lead $100 Million Federal Program to Advance Solar Cell Module Research

Prototype Development, Materials Application Capability to be Included in Next Phase of DARPA-Sponsored Research Consortium

Ellen Pressley

WILMINGTON, Del., July 23, 2007 - As part of its strategy to be the leader in developing some of the key materials for more efficient solar panels, DuPont today announced that it will be managing the critical phase of prototype development and applications testing for the newly formed DuPont-University of Delaware Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) Consortium. The announcement follows the University of Delaware’s demonstration of a viable design for a solar cell with a potential efficiency increase of 30 percent.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the consortium $12.2 million as part of a three-year, multi-phase program that could total up to $100 million. DuPont, the only company with more than eight key materials used in solar panels, will manage the consortium of proposed companies and scientific institutions dedicated to the optimization of the VHESC solar cells for efficiency and cost. The company has a 30-year history of science and innovation in the solar industry, developing new materials that make solar cells smaller and lighter, more efficient and cost effective. Solar panels convert light into electrical energy through the use of photovoltaic solar cells.

"DuPont is focused on providing innovative renewable energy technologies to the photovoltaic industry," said DuPont Senior Vice President and Chief Science and Technology Officer Uma Chowdhry. "We applaud the University of Delaware’s milestone achievement in developing a lab-scale solar cell module with exceptional efficiency." We believe the science being developed under this consortium can be transformative if the successes of the program to date can be transitioned from the research laboratory to engineering and manufacturing prototypes. In our view, this is one of the most difficult steps in developing a new technology and we look forward to working with the University of Delaware and others in the next phase of research."

The DuPont-University of Delaware VHESC consortium initially will focus on the development of affordable portable battery chargers based on ultra-high efficiency solar cells, which allow readily deployable recharging of batteries. The proposed system offers significant improvements in solar cell efficiencies compared to existing battery chargers and record flat plate terrestrial solar cells that collect both the direct and diffuse radiation and are not mobile.

Today, American soldiers carry packs that weigh nearly 100 pounds, of which about 20 pounds are the three-day supply of batteries needed to power their gear. The DARPA program aims to dramatically improve battery life and provide the soldier with more power at reduced weight, thus improving mobility, survivability and the availability of advanced electronic technologies on the battlefield. With the higher efficiency of the VHESC technology, solar rechargers could be integrated into common battlefield devices such as night vision goggles, radios and GPS navigation systems.

DuPont offers the broadest portfolio in the photovoltaic solar market, with eight key materials used to make solar cells and modules. The company is manufacturing, or conducting research on, solar energy products at three sites in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, China and Japan.

By 2015, DuPont will grow our annual revenues by at least $2 billion from products that create energy efficiency and/or significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions for our customers. Some of this growth will be achieved through solar panel technology. DuPont provides materials for conducting the electricity produced by the cell and for encapsulation of cell assemblies into environmentally stable panels for protection from moisture, UV rays and impact. DuPont is investing approximately $100 million to expand its product offerings in this rapidly growing market.

DuPont – one of the first companies to publicly establish environmental goals 16 years ago – has broadened its sustainability commitments beyond internal footprint reduction to include market-driven targets for both revenue and research and development investments. The goals are tied directly to business growth, specifically to the development of safer and environmentally improved new products for key global markets, including products that help increase energy efficiency.

DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.