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Development of Photovoltaic Textiles based on novel fibres

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EU researchers develop wearable solar panels

Scientists in Spain are looking at how photovoltaic panels can be integrated into common objects or textiles.

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Solar energy is a rapidly growing market. However, a lack of flexibility and conformability means that it remains difficult to integrate photovoltaic panels into common objects or clothes. Researchers believe this problem needs to be rectified as many sun-exposed surface areas, such as clothes, car interiors or outdoor articles like solar tents and parasols, are textile based and could be significant providers of solar energy. Scientists in the 'Development of photovoltaic textiles based on novel fibres' (Dephotex) project will therefore identify the specific needs of these textiles, namely their geometrical dimensions, durability, electrical properties (voltage and power), and cost sustainability for various industrial sectors, such as home textiles, sports, leisure, clothing and the automotive industry. Secondly, the research team will investigate various conductive textiles, in particular, carbon nano-tubes and conductive polymers, as potential substrates for the photovoltaic cells. In parallel to this activity, researchers will study photovoltaic active materials, barrier materials and deposition techniques, leading ultimately to the fabrication of new devices for two distinct markets. First, the project will develop the technology necessary for applications where pieces of fabric can be processed with industrial tools. A second technique will enable the production of photovoltaic patches that can be pasted on to large surface area textiles, such as sizeable stadium awnings, that cannot be processed in a factory.

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