Photothermal Solar Cell

Period of Performance: 07/31/2017 - 07/30/2019

$1MM

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Aquaneers
495A Henry Street Array
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

Water and energy are critically-linked resources. Shortages of water or energy can result in severe and rapid distress to communities, which is an increasingly common occurrence in certain locals. Technologies that can harvest energy and water using locally available resources without damaging the environment are sought to increase sustainability at the energy-water nexus. Aquaneers is pioneering novel energy-harvesting materials and developing devices based on these materials to provide clean water and energy where it is needed with minimal impact. The company’s Plasmonic Absorber (PA) is a novel, nanotechnology-enabled photothermal energy converting material that directly converts solar energy into heated steam. The PA is first being applied to solar desalination through the AquaSol device that produces pure water from seawater using solar power. Humanitarian relief organizations and the US Military are two customer groups that have a need and can benefit from the development of the technology. The Phase I project led to the successful prototype development of both the PA energy conversion material and also the AquaSol device, with encouraging results for each. The Phase II commercialization and work plans are focused on bringing the technology to fruition in a systematic manner based on quantified test and measurement of the technology components and subsystems, and, through customer interactions and interviews that will lead to a marketable product through niche market entry. The PA will be optimized in Phase II while fabrication techniques for mass production are developed. Superhydrophobic coatings are being developed to control water flow in the desalination system during Phase II and surface engineering of the components used for light and water collection is planned. Field validation of the AquaSol device in a relevant environment will be performed prior to commercial deployment during the project.