The US Army has funded Konarka Technologies to develop its photovoltaic technology to provide the Army with a source of lightweight, flexible, scalable and renewable power for military applications. Konarka's technology converts sunlight as well as indoor, artificial light into direct current electrical power. The company uses proprietary low-temperature production methods to put the photovoltaic cells onto flexible, lightweight plastics.
"One of the top concerns in the military is the need to develop ultra-lightweight, renewable power for the equipment and electronics that soldiers use, such as displays, computer systems and communications devices," said Philip Brandler, Director, US Army Natick Soldier Center.
"The weight of the batteries that soldiers must now carry is an ever-increasing problem, as the electronics behind future warrior systems become more sophisticated, complex and reliant on portable battery power. As a result, Konarka is an ideal partner to help develop technology that will address this issue, which will mitigate a significant logistics burden and therefore greatly enhance the military's capabilities in the field," he added.
An initial project between the Natick Soldier Center and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, led to a breakthrough chemical process, known as cold sintering, that resulted in the formation of Konarka. The cold sintering technology facilitates materials processing at relatively low temperatures, which allows Konarka to create photovoltaic cells without exposing the materials to destructive high temperatures in the manufacturing process, enabling it to develop flexible cells on lightweight, flexible materials, rather than on glass or silicon. Under the current program, Konarka will supply prototypes of modules and demonstrate their ability to charge batteries and operate military equipment. For more information, visit: www.konarkatech.com