VDL becomes a partner with Solliance for the development of a new, completely integrated roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing line for the research and pilot production of organic photovoltaic (OPV) modules. The development will take place within a consortium of several companies, including Smit Ovens, supplying the drying furnaces for the R2R equipment and Bosch Rexroth, responsible for the drive components. The partners will define and improve the specifications based on the experience gained during their cooperation. The pilot line will be built within the coming year. It will become operational at the new Solliance facility located at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. VDL will assume further business responsibilities in the commercialization of the manufacturing line.
OPVs are flexible solar cells made of light-active plastics and can be manufactured by cost-effective processes suitable for large-scale production. They may be less efficient than previous rigid solar cells based on silicon, but they offer the potential to be manufactured in large quantities, at low cost, and with low material quantities. They offer therefore advantages when used on large surfaces, for example on roofs and facades of industrial buildings.
Flexible solar cells are especially useful as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). The growing trend in the construction industry is to reduce the amount of energy used by buildings over their lifetime. The aim is to create energy-neutral and energy self-sufficient buildings. One way is to integrate renewable energy-generating technologies such as solar cells into the building envelope. In contrast to PV systems fitted to a building afterwards, BIPV completely merges the intrinsic function of the construction with the power generating function.
To further develop this innovative technology, new production processes have to be investigated. These new processes will lead to high-efficiency, low-cost and highly-stable OPV modules for a wide range of applications.
Huib van den Heuvel, general manager of VDL's new unit VDL FLOW: "VDL looks forward to team up with Solliance for this project. We are convinced that this cooperation will accelerate the market readiness of large area printed electronics through synergy between world class organizations in research, process development, equipment design, and manufacturing."
Hein Willems, Director of Solliance: "Solliance has the ambition to turn the Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen triangle (ELAT region) into a world player in thin film PV. We can only realize this in close cooperation with the industry. That is why we are very pleased with the new company VDL FLOW. New businesses, more economic activities and more jobs in this region are important goals of Solliance."
VDL Groep is an international industrial company focused on the development, production and sale of semi-finished products, buses & coaches, car manufacturing services and other finished products. It is a conglomerate of flexible, independent companies, each with its own specialty. The strength of VDL Groep lies in the mutual cooperation between the companies.
Since its founding in 1953, VDL Groep has grown to include 82 operating companies, spread over 18 countries, with more than 8,700 employees. VDL has through it's acquisition of Philips Enabling Technologies Group over 100 years of contract manufacturing experience in the production of high-tech equipment for turnkey factory automation projects and for leading OEMs in semiconductor, analytical, solar, LED and medical applications. VDL FLOW (Functional Layers On Web) is a new venture within VDL, focusing on the development and supply of high-performance roll-to-roll and sheet-to-sheet production equipment for 'Printed Electronics' applications such as flexible solar panels, OLED lighting, displays, sensors and batteries.
VDL FLOW builds on the extensive VDL experience in design and manufacturing of high-end production equipment for the electronics industry. Being a system integrator VDL FLOW cooperates with leading technology partners for the various deposition, curing, patterning and quality inspection technologies. VDL FLOW's unique selling points are intimately tied to the high throughput and large flexibility of its manufacturing lines, extremely accurate positioning and handling of the substrates, and the cleanliness of the process environment. VDL FLOW's design team brings together a mix of engineers with strong backgrounds in printing, converting, mechatronics, electronics and equipment manufacturing.
Solliance is a partnership of R&D organizations working in photovoltaic solar energy (PV) in the ELAT region (Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen). In order to strengthen the region's position as a world player in PV, Solliance is creating the required synergy by consolidating and coordinating the activities of industry, research institutes and universities. Solliance partners are: ECN, imec, TNO, Holst Centre,TU/e and Forschungszentrum Jülich. Solliance is supported by the Dutch province of North Brabant, which has dedicated € 28 million to Solliance. This will fund a large shared laboratory in Eindhoven with the newest equipment, complementing the partner's labs which are also available to the other partners. In order to make optimal use of these lab facilities, they are open to valorization programs in joint research with industry. Solliance aims to collaborate with all main companies and institutes in the world. Solliance offers participation in its research and opens up its lab facilities to new entrants, either from industry or in research. On the basis of clear Intellectual Property (IP) agreements, each industrial partner can participate in this research effort, or alternatively, hire equipment and experts to further develop its own technology. See: www.solliance.eu
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