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Hasselt University and the Flemish research institute imec have jointly founded Enfoil: a new spin-off developing foldable solar panels.
Editorial office / Hasselt

The solar panels are only a few millimetres thick, extremely robust and perfectly integrable on all kinds of surfaces. Talks are already underway on the large-scale production of the integrated solar panels for on roofs and sidewalls of trucks.

For years, within EnergyVille, UHasselt and imec have been investigating new types of solar cells that are easier, cheaper and can be integrated in many more places than the standard silicon solar panels currently on many roofs. These cannot be placed everywhere due to their weight or shape. Those who wanted to integrate solar cells on surfaces such as trucks, buildings or tents, for example, could mainly buy standard formats, mostly flat and in predetermined sizes, for this purpose and had to rely on themselves to integrate them on the surface.

“With Enfoil, we are changing this,” says Marc Meuris, CTO of EnFoil. “We make thin-film solar cells in all shapes and sizes and can do so on a large scale. The solar cells are then installed directly on the customer’s products or further integrated into them. Production is done locally and we guarantee the feasibility and integration of the final products.”

“With the new spin-off EnFoil from UHasselt and imec, we are now taking a very big step,” says Dominique Coster, CEO of EnFoil (Energy Enabling Foil).

Sustainable and reliable

Behind EnFoil are technologies and processes that were developed patented within UHasselt and imec. The thin-film solar cells are based on CIGS technology, made from copper-indium-gallium and selenium. “Because of their pliability, their light weight and their robustness, these solar panels are easier to integrate into all kinds of applications than is the case with current silicon solar panels,” says Prof Bart Vermang of imo-imomec, imec’s associate lab at UHasselt. “They are also more shock-resistant.”

Further development

Talks with industry to bring EnFoil’s solar films to market are ongoing. Think of applications such as swimming pool covers, corrugated roof tiles and the roofs and sidewalls of trucks. With a grant of €150,000 from the European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept scheme, UHasselt is recruiting a researcher who will work further with EnFoil on product development.

Check the imec website for more information.

Image: imec