1 April 2010


NREL and 3M to jointly investigate renewable energy

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and 3M of St Paul, MN, USA have announced a series of one-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) that establish joint investigations in three key areas of innovation: thin-film photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, and biofuels..

The CRADAs range from jointly identifying and developing critical aspects of renewable energy technology to accelerated testing of 3M designs and scaling-up successful prototype technologies for commercial production.

“CRADAs like these with 3M not only help shift the nation to a clean energy, but they also establish and expand important partnerships for product development through technology transfer,” says Casey Porto, NREL’s senior VP of Commercialization and Deployment. “3M’s wide-ranging expertise and commitment in these fields makes this a key partnership for the laboratory,” he adds.

“3M is excited for the opportunity to tap into NREL’s expertise and understanding of a variety of solar modules and the interplay between the materials and systems,” says Mike Roman, general manager & VP of 3M Renewable Energy Division. 

Areas of investigation and testing under the agreements include:

  • new moisture barrier films and flexible packaging for CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) thin-film solar cells to increase module performance and reduce manufacturing costs;
  • new reflective coatings to protect and enhance the performance of lower-cost mirrors used in concentrating solar power; and
  • new alternatives to ethanol biofuel distillation that will reduce energy and water use, and increase throughput in existing corn ethanol and future cellulosic ethanol production plants.

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