Five North American solar start-up companies have been selected to receive further support in developing their technology and moving them closer to market under the SunRISE TechBridge Challenge, which had 56 team entries.
Of the five winners, one is Canadian colloidal quantum dot cell developer QD Solar, which will gain support from Greentown Launch acceleration and DSM Partnership/Investment, as well as desk and lab space at Greentown Labs in Somerville, MA, and networking and coaching to accelerate their business and networking in the cleantech community in the Greater Boston area.
QD Solar uses low-cost, nano-engineered particles to produce solar cells that can capture wasted infrared light, resulting in a 20% increase in efficiency over conventional solar panels, based on research conducted at the Nanomaterials for Energy Laboratory in the University of Toronto’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The SunRISE TechBridge Challenge challenged companies to present innovative solutions and new materials that will lower the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for photovoltaic (PV) systems, including novel materials for existing and emerging high performance PV modules, technologies enabling non-traditional solar deployment, and business models that integrate solar PV with energy storage.
QD Solar started life at the University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation, and in March received $2.55 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).
Conventional solar panels waste a large portion of available sun energy because their silicon solar cells can’t capture infrared light energy, a problem that QD Solar set out to solve with their proprietary quantum dot-based solar cells using nano-engineered, low-cost materials that can absorb infrared light.
QD Solar CEO Dan Shea is a former executive with Celestica and Blackberry.
In 2009, co-founder Edward Sargent and his team at the University of Toronto received a grant from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia to advance their research into colloidal quantum dots for solar power applications.
The SunRISE TechBridge Challenge was organized by Fraunhofer TechBridge and the SunRISE Partners, which include Royal DSM and Greentown Labs.
The Fraunhofer TechBridge Challenge is an offering of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE), which organizes several industry-sponsored annual challenges to accelerate promising technologies through targeted industry-driven validation projects, including the SunRISE Challenge, Advanced Industrial Surfaces, the Microgrid Challenge, and the Innovation Ecosystem Program.
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft is a German applied R&D organization which has 66 institutes and independent research units throughout Germany and 80 institutes and centers around the world.
Nicola Bettio, a member of QD Solar’s Board of Directors, manages the KAUST Innovation Fund and anticipates the establishment of the company’s presence in a significant development facility in KAUST’s Research & Technology Park in the near future.