Konarka is calling their flexible, thin-film solar material, to be made in New Bedford MA, Power Plastic. There are several layers of good news to the announcement. One is that former employees of a closed Polaroid plant are getting jobs with Konarka, putting their roll printing expertise to use.
In addition to acquiring the fully automated roll-to-roll manufacturing line, the company has also hired the leading technology and process engineering teams from Polaroid, with plans to hire over 100 additional employees as production increases toward capacity over the next two to three years. Via::Konarka press release.Lights, Cameras, Action! Who'd have thought that instant photography and roll-to-roll printing would lead to better solar energy capture technology on a commercial scale? Konarka apparently. We often publish posts on alternative energy break-through research findings or "bench scale" prototypes. And then never hear of them again. It's a rare treat when a promising one graduates to the commercial level. Even better when graduation leverages what would otherwise be an orphaned manufacturing process once operated by a down-scaling business. Other wow factors: support of both public and private sector investments over a 7 year period, and the talents of a Nobel prize winning chemist.
Konarka’s advanced photovoltaic technology started with the work of the late Dr. Sukant Tripathy, an internationally known polymer materials scientist, provost at UMASS Lowell and founder of the Plastic Innovation Center and Dr. Alan Heeger, Konarka’s chief scientist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2000. The ground-breaking discoveries from both founding scientists led to Konarka’s underlying technology leadership, including a manufacturing process at relatively low temperatures, which enables the use of low-cost plastic substrate films. As a result of these pioneering innovations, the company has secured over $100 million from leading venture capital and private equity funds, as well as $18 million in government agency research grants from the U.S. and Europe.
Image credit::Konarka, via BusinessNewsWire.
TreeHugger has tracked several of Konarka's innovations since early 2005
Konarka Technologies Keeps the US Army in Solar Power
Ink-Jet Printed, Thin-Film Solar Prototype By Konarka
Konarka and Textronics to Make Solar Suits
Solar Pyramids Being Built in India
Google Founders Invest in Nanosolar