Everlight Chemical: Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells to Bring Innovation to the Next-Generation Solar Products

published: 2011-10-04 18:34 | editor: | category: Interviews

Recently, due to that silicon-based solar technology has entered a mature stage, the spotlight has been shifting to other solar technologies as the market is pursuing more innovations. EnergyTrend conducted an interview with Everlight Chemical Industrial Corporation, which was founded in 1972 and is dedicated to the manufacture, R&D, and sales of high-tech chemical products. Everlight Chemical’s business took off with its dyes for clothes. Besides its success in the dye industry, the company has been diversifying its range of manufactures, including products with high added value and key chemicals. Recently, the company has expanded its footprint in several chemical fields such as specialty, electronic, medical and nanometer material.

Der-gun Chou, Ph.D., the Head of Corporate Research Center of Everlight Chemical, stated in an interview conducted by EnergyTrend that the company, with its expertise in assorted chemicals, will continue bringing its core competence into full play, strengthening its market positions and embodying its business concept emphasizing environment, green energy and health. Targeting at the prospects of the third-generation solar cell technology, which is right up its alley, Everlight Chemical began to be engaged in the development of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC), TiO2, platinum paste and electrolyte with its own technologies since 2006. Moreover, the company has obtained a number of patents in the dyes and electrolyte sectors, and will keep working towards the goal of becoming the biggest sensitizing dye manufacturer in the world.

DSSC’s electricity generation method is similar to photosynthesis: the sensitizing dye applied on it will absorb sunlight to stimulate electrons to generate electricity, and electrolytes are added to help the electricity transmission from electrons to electrodes. Compared to the first and second-generation solar technologies, the third-generation one possesses many indispensable advantages, such as low-light intensity, compatibility with indoor and portable solar products and ability to provide dyes with different colors for trendy designs. Chou pointed out that aside from its brown ruthenium dye, the company also supplies dyes with assorted colors, catering to clients’ needs for their products’ designs.

Chou stated that the DSSC industry is currently in the initial stage. In regards to its development, European countries and Japan have been largely focusing on it and invested a considerable amount of fund dedicated to the research; South Korea and China have started their researches as well. China’s 12th Five-Year Plan lists DSSC as one of the key focuses, and the Chinese government has established a National DSSC laboratory in Wuhan; Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) even specifically indicated in June, 2010, that DSSC has been listed as one of the ten crucial technologies. On the other hand, Taiwan still lacks researches supported and integrated by the government except for a few researches run by corporations. Chou worriedly stated that if the Taiwanese government does not strive to integrate and accelerate the development and obtain patents, Taiwan will lose its edge in the third-generation solar industry, which is the opposite of what Taiwanese manufacturers are endeavoring to achieve – innovation and transformation.

Focus on Portable Power and Indoor Applications

Chou further indicated that instead of competing with the first and second-generation solar technologies, the DSSC technology targets at a market different from theirs. In the initial stage, DSSC should focus on portable power and indoor applications, which can be adopted in consumer-based electronic appliances such as remote control, wireless keyboard, electronic tag, indoor indicator, biosensor and indoor decoration. In addition, DSSC is also suitable for products require a small amount of electricity, such as e-book reader and assorted electronic gifts and cards with screens. Due to DSSC’s wide adoption, it requires an integration of various technologies (chemical, material, mechanical engineering, electronic, car, building and bio-technology) in order to develop ground-breaking end-market products and spur prospects for the DSSC industry. In fact, European countries, Japan, South Korea and China all go out of their ways to propel the development of DSSC. Chou believed that Taiwan is tailored for developing DSSC technology and industry, because Taiwan manufactures a big part of the global electronic appliances. Furthermore, the key chemicals and screen printing equipment DSSC requires can all be supplied by domestic chemical manufacturers. Chou hoped that the government can become the bridge between different industries and integrate the industrial chain, creating better circumstances for the next-generation solar industry to develop in.

Chou also pointed out that due to DSSC’s wide adoption, different product designs require different specifications. Therefore, different DSSC applications should be tested by respective criteria (the silicon-based PV criteria cannot apply DSSC products). The establishment of criteria for DSSC products is another key to the industry’s development. In light of the lack of international DSSC criteria at present, Chou suggested that the government institutions, such as Center for Measurement Standards of Industrial Technology Research Institute and Semi, should take active measures and get involved in establishing the DSSC criteria, which will be the backbone of the next-generation solar industry. Chou pointed out that in light of that many integral DSSC patents will expire by the end of 2013, a lot of foreign companies have started setting foot in the DSSC sector. He predicted that 2013 and 2014 will be a defining time for the DSSC industry. Everlight Chemical strives to not only obtain patents but also strengthen cost competitiveness. With 40 years of experience in manufacturing high-tech products, the company hopes to provide products with the best performance/price ratio and technology support in order to fulfill the needs of the global DSSC industry.

Chou stressed that Everlight Chemical’s strengths lie in its innovations, customization and fast response to clients’ various needs. In addition, Everlight Chemical is a company with a high financial stability and can survive severe economic conditions, which is why the company becomes the suppliers of many global major DSSC manufacturers. The company’s financial strength and innovations are able to help its clients minimize the risk of developing in this emerging industry. With the supreme quality of its high-tech products and expertise in technology support, Everlight Chemical earns trust of the major DSSC makers and explores the unlimited potential of the promising industry.

Everlight Chemical will be exhibiting its latest product at PV Taiwan (October 5-7, 2011) at Booth A611.

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