BioSolar Inc., a Santa Clarita, Calif., developer of bio-based materials for photovoltaic solar modules, is revising its manufacturing strategy.
At this time, BioSolar does not have its own production facilities because of the company's small size. It also wants to keep debt down while developing its signature product, the BioBacksheet, Stan Levy, chief technology officer, said in a July 9 telephone interview.
Instead, the company currently outsources its manufacturing to two partner companies for extrusion and compacting: Wallingford, Conn.-based Rowland Technologies Inc., and Somerville, N.J.-based Leistritz USA.
According to the company's website, the BioBacksheet is designed specifically for c-Si [crystalline silicone] PV module manufacturers.
The backsheets will be available in rolls of film for direct use in lamination and roll-to-roll assembly systems.
Levy said BioSolar was started because he and his colleagues saw the need for a material that is bio-based, instead of petroleum-based.
Backsheet seemed to be the ideal starting point. We found materials cheaper [than petroleum] that are also green, Levy said.
Levy added that the company wants to come out with one product that will get industry recognition.
The base resin of the bio-based materials used to make BioBacksheet is nylon 11. The company uses castor beans as a feedstock, Levy said, because with castor, [we] don't have to worry about the price going up.
Levy said the material is mineral-filled. This is totally recyclable, and improves the dielectric strength, which lowers the water-transmission rate and improves and increases thermal conductivity, he said.
BioSolar is the only company working with this type of material, Levy said. He added that the product is unique in that it's a single-layer product, which the industry seems to like.
BioSolar, which started a little over three years ago, had its first commercial run several weeks ago, Levy said. The product did garner interest, but companies want a lot more data on the material, he said.
Interested companies also want to run their own tests, Levy said, a process that could take quite a bit of time, as one test can take 1,000-3,000 hours.
Levy said BioSolar does plan to build its own manufacturing facility in the future as the company grows and receives recognition within the industry.
The BioSolar Backsheet is the only product currently produced by the company. With its planned progress, BioSolar hopes to develop BioSolar thin film substrate, BioSolar superstrate and BioSolar plastic.