The solar panels are the result of years of scientific research. Initial talks between EnFoil and the industry to produce the solar panels and integrate them onto the roofs of trucks are ongoing.
Standard silicon solar panels found on rooftops already play an important role but cannot be placed on every surface due to their weight or shape. For years, UHasselt and imec have been investigating new types of solar cells that are easier and cheaper to integrate into many more settings than just roofs. “With Enfoil, the new spin-off of UHasselt and imec, we are now taking a very big step,” says Dominique Coster, CEO of EnFoil. EnFoil stands for Energy Enabling Foil.
Until now, to integrate solar cells on the roofs of trucks, buildings or tents, consumers could only buy standard, typically flat products of a pre-defined size, and handle the integration themselves.
This mainly limited the technology to exclusive construction projects, or as an expensive opt-ins for cars. With Enfoil, we aim to change this,” says Marc Meuris, (pictured right) CTO of EnFoil. “We intend to make custom solar foils in any size and shape at a large scale (“mass customization”). The solar foil will then be installed directly or further integrated into the products of our customers. The production will be done locally and we will guarantee the feasibility and integration of the final products.”
Picture shows Professor Mark Meuris (right) CTO of Enfoil and Professor Bart Vermang from Hasselt University
“EnFoil combines technologies and processes that are patented and developed within UHasselt and imec. The thin-film solar cells are based on CIGS technology, made from copper-indium-gallium and selenium. “This technology offers light weight, flexibility and impact resistance which is crucial for many new applications,” says prof. Bart Vermang (left) of imo-imomec, imec’s associate lab at UHasselt. And the solar cells achieve almost the same efficiency as standard panels.
EnFoil has ongoing discussions with the industry to bring its solar foil to the market. A wide array of applications will be possible, such as integrating the solar cells on swimming pool covers or roof tiles. Currently, we mostly focus on the logistics sector, aiming to integrate our materials on roofs and sidewalls of trucks to power their sensors and track & trace systems. It would save the battery, and under abundant sunlight, the battery could even be charged,” says Meuris.
The project has a grant of €150,000 from the European Research Council through an ERC Proof of Concept.