Category: SOLAR
11. December 2013   7:07 am
Khoren Sahagian

Khoren Sahagian

Some plasma physicists have proposed an alternative comet theory.   In their model a comet may actually be a negatively charged body created from the violent collision of large masses during planet formation.  As these charged bodies accelerate towards the sun they interact with solar winds in an extravagant display of plasma discharge.  Water or hydroxyl compounds would be the explained byproduct from the combination of the oxygen present in silicates with the protons being ejected from the sun.

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) taken from TRAPPIST national telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory on the morning of Nov. 15, 2013. (Liège, Belgium)

Scientific observation of comets have been recorded for more than a century. In the late 20th century the scientific community reached its first consensus of the comet’s theoretical constitution.  Fred Whipple coined the hypothesis “dirty snowball” presenting the astrological object as an amalgamation of ice, rock, and star dust.  When this body nears the sun a brilliant tail emerges resulting from the sublimation of ice within the comet nucleus.

Yet some would argue that there are a few unexplained attributes of a comet to note.  First is that the coma generally always remains spherical.  This would not necessarily be expected from asymmetric jets of ice emanating from the core but might be sustained by a strong electrical field.  Second is a low constitution of water sampled in missions probing the surface and tail of a comet. One such program “Stardust mission” sent a space craft equipped with an aerogel net through the path of a comet tail.  Upon return the ground based team was surprised to find an assortment of complex high temperature crystalline formations; portions of which were anhydrous structures.  This fundamentally challenges the accepted theory as a low temperature snowball.  There are some that even liken a comet surface to objects on Earth that have become ablated by plasma discharge.  Search for SEM images and decide for yourself.

Comet; plasma or ice?

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Category: SOLAR
2. April 2013   1:07 am
Wally Hansen

Wally Hansen
Belmont, CA

A recent material society meeting was a real eye opener.  Dr. Ripudaman Malhotra, energy scientist at SRI International, and co-author of the above titled book, presented a fascinating lecture regarding our energy future.

Energy is measured in so many ways that it is difficult to evaluate actual demand and consumption. We have Btu, tons of coal, barrels of oil, and KWh, mostly measured in kilo, mega and giga-huge terms. A new measurement was needed that could be visualized.

Current world use of Oil is about 1 Cubic Mile in volume.  If we compare other energy sources, in equivalents of cubic miles of oil (CMO), we have a current world consumption of about 3 CMO primarily from Oil, Coal and Natural Gas. By comparison, current Solar and Wind renewables contribute a miniscule 0.03%.

At the rate of world growth, there will be a demand for between 6 and 9 CMO in 50 years.  There is currently plenty of fossil fuels remaining but they are from less conventional sources (shale, tar sands) and will be needed while we switch to new sources. A huge task!

 

Producing 1 CMO/ year from alternate technologies will require:

Hydroelectric:                 200 dams – 4 per year for 50 years

Nuclear:                           2,500 plants – 1 a week for 50 years

Windmills:                       3 million – 1,200 a week for 50 years

Solar CSP                       7,700 solar plants – 3 a week for 50 years

Solar roofs                      4.2 billion – 250,000 roofs a day for 50 years.

 

The good news: The sun offers 23,000 CMO/year as heat, wind, photovoltaic and biomass.  The raw material is available. It is time to go to work.

I would like to thank Dr. Ripudaman Malhotra for the use of this data from an extremely interesting lecture.

I recommend the book,  A Cubic Mile of Oil: Realities and Options for Averting the Looming Global Energy Crisis by Crane, Kinderman and Malhotra.

As always, your comments and questions are welcomed.

Regards,

Wally Hansen

 

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Category: SOLAR
17. July 2012   1:33 am
Wally Hansen

Wally Hansen
Belmont, CA

The recent turmoil in world-wide solar module manufacturing recalls a parallel situation in the early American Automotive Industry.

The Ford Motor Company introduced the Model T in 1908 at a price of $895. Due to part standardization and assembly line production, Ford was able to relentlessly cut costs year after year.

By 1923, Ford had reduced the price to $250, had put millions of Americans behind the wheel and was making over 50% of the cars in the world. The Model T was a successful design that had worked well for many years. In 1918 there were over 400 automobile manufactures in the US. By 1923 there were only 42.

Current photo voltaic manufacturing is following a similar pattern. With high demand driven by government incentives, large manufacturing capacity has been introduced. With economies of scale and competition for market share, the result has been massive oversupply and huge cost reduction of modules.

For 2012, there is approximately twice the production capacity as module demand. Crystalline Silicon, and specifically Chinese cSi modules, the Model T of solar, comprise over 50% of world production. While other approaches such as CIGS and CdTe thin films have been developed and commercialized, they cannot compete with proven cSi in today’s market.  As a result, there have been many production reductions and recent business failures.

Back to the Model T…Everything was looking great for Ford in 1923.  However by 1927, and even at a further reduced price to $200, the Model T had become hopelessly out of date. People wanted better comfort and features such as electrical starters. After over 15 million Model Ts were manufactured and sold, Model T production was halted. Ford never recaptured its dominant position.

Back to PV… Things will change. The advantages of solar energy are compelling. The current capacity/demand equation will change and become more balanced. At that point, there will be opportunities for something better. Better cost. Better efficiency. Better reliability. Better than the current Model T.

***

Whether you are manufacturing a Model T, a Tesla or cSi, thin film or concentrated PV, you need precision cleaning, sealing and adhesion to insure reliability. We can help.

As always, please contact me with questions or comments.

Wally Hansen
510 862 2581
wally.hansen@plasmatreat.com

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Category: SOLAR
15. May 2012   4:28 am
Wally Hansen

Wally Hansen
Belmont, CA

First Solar has announced a $250 million warranty charge for defective panels.  For about a year  First Solar had a “Manufacturing Excursion” that resulted in a 4%-8% field failure rate after only a couple of years of service.

First Solar has not commented on the exact nature of the “Excursion.”  Since it occurred over a period of a year and at three different  manufacturing facilities, I would not call this an “Excursion” but a misunderstanding of acceptable process tolerances or allowables.

This is especially troubling because First Solar is the largest and most successful US solar manufacturer.  They have the best equipment, the smartest  scientists and engineers, and probably the best understanding of their products.

“We thought everything was OK.  Our modeling was good.  Our in-process controls were good.  Our accelerated testing and certifications indicated no problems. We  inspected 100% of the modules. Everything is OK.” ……Followed several years later by, ”I think we may have a problem. We didn’t know,” You could hear some upset engineer or scientist say.

Solar modules are exposed to the harshest environmental conditions and are warranted to reliably produce power for decades. Solar materials, can continue to react and degrade with heat over time. Wind and structural loads mechanically stress  panels. Sealing and prevention of moisture ingression into the module is a key factor in preventing field failure. Understanding and improving environmental reliability was a manufacturing issue. Now it is a real financial issue.

I think that we can help. Plasmatreat’s Openair technology and production treatment systems have become an important tool for automated, reliable solar product manufacture.

  • Openair® Cleaning of glass and metal surfaces for reliable J-box attach, rail bonding and edge sealing
  • Openair® Activation of plastic junction boxes for critical and long-lasting potting adhesion
  • AntiCorr® Coatings for corrosion protection and adhesion promotion.

Avoid the Excursions and stay on the path.  Keep the water out and the smoke in.

As always, comments, opinions and ideas are welcome.

-Wally

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Category: LIFE SCIENCES / SOLAR
8. March 2012   11:25 pm
Mikki Larner

Mikki Larner
Belmont, CA

Hello friends and followers,

I received a quick note from Andy Stecher (PTS President) plus have been following the news that a large solar storm is headed towards earth.   Anchorage Daily News reports:   http://www.adn.com/2012/03/08/2358908/biggest-solar-storm-in-years-hits.html.  Huffington Post has a nice update as well athttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/aurora-borealis-2012-solar-flare-storm_n_1332255.html.  In addition, I have been watching the sky in the evening on my commute home as Venus and Jupiter have been quite close to the moon the past few nights.

I still owe you all the report from Dyana’s visit toAlaska(and use of plasma for modifying devices) but this late breaking news may allow many in the northern latitudes to experience the same without a trip toAlaska.

Go out and watch the sky tonight!

Cheers, Mikki

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Category: SOLAR
6. February 2012   12:17 am
Wally Hansen

Wally Hansen
Belmont, CA

Hello Everyone,

I would like introduce myself and invite you to participate in this discussion of solar product manufacturing and the role that plasma surface treatment is providing.

By introduction, I am Wally Hansen, the Solar Market Manager for Plasmatreat in North America.  I live and work in the San Francisco Bay area.  As a Californian, I am an avid outdoorsman, sailor, environmentalist and lover of the sun.

For several decades, I have worked in the field of plasma surface treatments for critical manufacturing applications. Plasma cleaning and activation has become common in solar product manufacturing. The ability to clean materials to atomic levels and rearrange the surface chemistry for adhesion is remarkable.  To do it in-line, 24/7, without chemicals, emissions or touching the surface is amazing.

We in the solar manufacturing world, are facing amazing opportunities and challenges.  Sometimes, it is hard to see the good we do when today’s pressure is performance, yield,  and cost cost cost . We are asked for long-term performance and environmental guarantees on our products that have rarely been done before.  How well would your car perform after sitting in a field for 25 years? How long would your flat screen television last if attached to your roof?

I would like to make this blog a place for open discussion of plasma and solar manufacturing,  especially as it relates to cleaning, bonding, sealing or environmental protection.  If  you have questions or wish a private discussion, please do this through our “Ask the Expert” feature of the Plasmatreat.com website or at email me at wally.hansen@plasmatreat.com

I will be posting information, ideas and links related to solar manufacturing and the role of plasma surface treatments on solar materials.  I would think that those of you involved in solar R&D, engineering, manufacturing and reliability may have an interest in participation.  I would love to invite the materials community as well. Please join me with your comments, questions, suggestions and interesting topics.

-Wally

 

 

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