Armor launches production of flexible photovoltaic films
After 6 years of technological partnership with major names of the global chemical industry and an investment of €40M, the French midmarket company ARMOR is ready to launch industrial production of a new generation of photovoltaic material, designed and manufactured in France. Called ASCA, this “low-carbon” product is part of the Beautiful Light Project. ASCA is a 3rd generation material that paves the way for a vast array of industrial applications. It will be custom made by ARMOR’s teams in La Chevrolière, near Nantes.
ASCA is a semi-transparent film, which is flexible, ultra-light and made from organic compounds, in other words, without rare metals. It is capable of producing electricity when it is exposed to all types of light, on any surface. This film weighs just 500 g/m2. Its lightness and its flexibility mean it can be used aesthetically, discreetly, in many different applications.
ARMOR has achieved this innovation thanks to its expertise in the coating of thermal transfer ribbons for bar-code printing. Through their expert knowledge of this manufacturing process producing over a billion m2/year, ARMOR has managed to make the necessary adaptations to mass-produce a competitive, flexible, organic photovoltaic film. The creation of ASCA film has been possible thanks to an investment in R&D and equipment of €40M, since 2010, as well as a multidisciplinary team of 30 PhDs, engineers and technicians.
To ensure the success of the project, the company has developed partnerships with leading centres for research and industry in the world, including CEA-INES France (specialists in devices and age testing), CNRS-IMS France (specialists in materials and devices), CAMBRIOS Advanced Materials USA (specialists in silver nanowires), MERCK Germany (chemistry specialists in photoactive polymers and interface materials), LCPO France (chemistry specialists in organic polymers), AMCOR France (specialists in films and encapsulation), and ADHEX France (specialists in technical adhesives). ARMOR has also brought on board many world experts in electronic materials and new energy technologies, as well as experts in coating and encapsulation processes.
The company has favoured wet roll-to-roll production processes, in order to preserve the greatest possible flexibility and to ensure the right balance between formulation and processes, according to the materials to be used and the circuits to be printed (quantity of cells, dimensions). ARMOR’s production capacity for ASCA is 1M m2 per year. The company is able to produce this quantity thanks to a highly effective engineering department, which is able to meet the requirements of customised requests, whilst offering the possibility of producing high volumes, to meet the needs of all manufacturers and markets. The first ASCA© films are ready to be released and their applications will be progressively unveiled during 2017.
This innovation results in an energy efficient manufacturing process which does not use silicon or any rare or toxic resources. ASCA has also the advantage of being fully recyclable, making it a virtuous component and demonstrating ARMOR’s attention to the entire life cycle of its products.