Natcore Solar (TSXV:NXT) today announced it had agreed to take on research and development work for five solar device manufacturers.
The company says the unnamed companies requested Natcore do so to determine whether its black silicon and liquid phase deposition processes can help them reduce costs and improve performance of their solar products.
Natcore CEO Chuck Provini said the project could lead to business. “If the results are what we anticipate for these tests, these companies would very likely be significant near-term customers for our AR-Box, an LPD licence and the requisite chemicals” he offered, adding: “we’ve been negotiating a number of potential joint ventures in various global markets. Successful commercial tests will strengthen our hand in those negotiations.”
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Natcore’s technology, which is licensed from Rice University in Houston, replaces the traditional chemical vapour deposition method used in solar applications with a wet chemistry process. The process, which was granted a patent licence agreement from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory last December, removes the need for silane, which is highly toxic and flammable. Natcore can also use the waste materials from the initial production of the silicon wafers or from the production of semiconductors, which allows facilities currently using the chemical vapour deposition method to potentially lower their cost of goods. The company believes this technology will replace expensive vacuum based furnaces with a silicon dioxide-based film that is grown in an environmentally friendly chemical bath.
In a conversation with Cantech Letter earlier this year, Provini said that black silicon wafers coated with Natcore’s process have measured a reflectance of .3%, meaning 99.7% of the sun was absorbed. He says this black silicon alternative could increase power output of solar facilities by 10% and, importantly, would not be affected by clouds or diffused light.
Natcore, which has yet to produce revenue, lost $3.9-million in fiscal 2011. At press time, shares of the company were up 7.4% to $.73 cents.