Research & Development
PVI has a dedicated innovation team to both improve existing products and to develop next generation product technologies in partnership with many diversified technological partners.
The HI-RESPONSE project is based on the development of a highly innovative Pulsed Electro-Static Printing (PESP) technology. Among the various printing technologies Pulsed Electro-Static Printing represents a game changing deposition technique capable of applying functional inks in a viscosity range, droplet volume and at a frequency currently not available using classical piezo-based ink jet technologies. This has created a capability to fulfil emerging market requirements in many sectors Pulsed Electro-Static Printing technology is able to bridge the gap between high and low ink viscosities within a deposition system. The enhanced viscosity range of inks mitigates and prevents fundamental issues like coagulation of particles during application. Nano-particle inks for inkjet printing and Pulsed Electro-Static Printing enable the exploitation of functional inks in novel fields of applications such as surface printed screens and PCBs. The use of these techniques are already adding functionality and improving reliability and sustainability in the automotive sector.
Photovoltaic Solar Cells
Photovoltaic solar cells deliver clean green energy, and the technology has been well proven with over 2.5 GWp currently installed in the UK alone. However, photovoltaic uptake is still limited due to the high CAPEX outlay and perceived slow Return on Investment (ROI). In order to accelerate widespread photovoltaic installation, there are strong drivers to further reduce the cost/W of solar cells. HI-PROSPECTS directly addresses this by developing innovative high resolution electrostatic ink jet technology to deposit fine copper electrode structures. This has been employed in two distinct applications; front contact electrode structures for c-Si and fine line grid structured TCOs for ITO replacement. The technologies increase cell efficiencies by reducing shading losses and will substitute expensive and volatile Ag pastes with cost effective nanoscale Cu.
HI-PROSPECTS will demonstrate the technology on c-Si cells & on next generation perovskite solar cells with target efficiency of 17% at <£230 / kWp. The project will facilitate the additional manufacture of up to 5 GWp of PV by 2023, generating 4100 GWh of electrical power.
Graphene Based Sensors
Consumer demand for improved comfort, safety, reliability, fuel efficiency, connectivity and infotainment coupled with and European legislation specifying stringent automotive emission targets are creating strong drivers for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to increase the embedding of electronics in modern vehicles. Position sensors are devices that convert linear or rotary motion into an electrical signal. They are applied to provide feedback on the motion of systems including velocity, acceleration, direction and road position. Position sensors are used throughout the car to monitor and control many functions including the position of pedals, steering wheel, gear selection, crank position, engine performance and vehicle stability. New applications for position sensors are being found, delivering ever more complex features and functionalities such as more accurate fuel level monitors, advanced engine management and dynamic headlight control. Furthermore sensors involved in the management of the engine represent a key technology to help OEMs meet ever tightening emission targets.
Data Driven Drilling Technology
Geothermal energy has enormous potential as a sustainable energy source, however, it has been largely under-utilized due to high investment costs and long development cycles. A major part (53%) of the cost is due to the length of time spent drilling. Geo-Drill aims to reduce drilling cost with increased ROP and reduced tripping with improved tool life. Geo-Geo-Drill is developing drilling technology incorporating bi-stable fluidic amplifier driven mud hammer, low cost 3D printed sensors & cables, realtime drill monitoring system and Graphene enhanced materials and coatings. Geo-Drill’s ‘fluidic amplifier’ driven hammer is less sensitive to issues with mud quality and the harsh down the hole environment including shocks, vibrations, accelerations, high temperatures and extreme pressure. As a consortium member, PVI is developing and producing low cost and robust 3D-printed sensors & cables along the surface of the whole length of the drill string. This will provide real-time high bandwidth data during drilling; e.g. estimation of rock formation hardness, mud flow speed, density, and operating temperatures. Flow assurance simulations combined with sensor readings and knowledge-based systems will assist in optimizing drilling parameters, cuttings transport performance and safety conditions. Graphene can be used as a protective coating. With its enhanced adhesion and dispersion properties, and resistance to abrasion, erosion, corrosion and impact, this material will be utilised in the Geo Drill project. Placing a few millimetres of hard-strength material on critical components, through diffusion bonding, improves wear resistance and adds longevity, leading to more reliable drilling equipment and a significant reduction in ‘non-productive’ drilling time. Real-time drilling data, improved material composition and a simplified fluidic hammer will improve drilling rates & component lifetime will reduce drilling time. It is expected that Geo-Drill will reduce drilling costs by 29-60%, improving the number of cost effective geothermal projects, supporting a more sustainable future energy mix.