ARMOR aiming to be the world leader in flexible organic photovoltaic film
This company from Nantes, whose know-how in the formulation of inks and depositing of fine ink layers on thin films is already known worldwide, has developed a flexible organic photovoltaic film called ASCA®.
Marketing and sales development manager, Moira Asses, tells us about this breakthrough innovation, shown last February at the BEPOSITIVE exhibition, and about the lead taken by ARMOR in this emerging market with very high potential.
What are the peculiarities and advantages of ASCA® film?
Our ASCA® film is made of seven different layers, the middle one being photoactive thanks to the use of organic polymers. The components contain no rare earths or silicon, meaning its manufacture is virtually carbon free. The intermediate layers direct solar electrons toward the electrodes. All this is encapsulated between two layers of barrier film to make it weatherproof and guarantee the given service life of more than ten years as measured in accelerated ageing tests. Our objective is to extend this lifespan to 20 years and to pursue our R&D to raise the measured power of ASCA® film to 80Wc/m² within 2 years (it currently stands at 40Wc). The film can be used as a glued overlay on structures or laminated between two panes of glass or polycarbonate.
The interest of this film lies in its transparency of 20–30%, which we are working on to optimize to 40% or even 60%. Another advantage is the film’s flexibility: it doesn’t need to be installed on flat surfaces, and that opens up a host of applications for developing energy self-sufficiency.
Furthermore, several international energy engineers are taking a big interest in the potential of ASCA® film as it paves the way for developments complementing classical photopanels, notably on fragile roofs, building frontages, and metallic textile structures.
Armor’s production unit can currently make a million square metres ASCA® film per year. What are your first applications and projects?
We chose to build a pilot production plant prior to launching the film commercially, considering this to be a competitive advantage for the rapid development of demonstration units. Today, this production capacity is the world’s biggest. At the start of July this year, assisted by Eiffage Energy Systems, we completed the Olivier market garden greenhouses in Nantes. 43m² of film was installed, using various integration methods, certain of which are retractable to adapt to seasons and weather conditions. The electricity produced is reinjected into the horticulturist’s electricity grid, replacing part of the greenhouses’ energy expenditure: lighting, dehumidification, automatic watering, etc. The film’s transparency means some light gets through, allowing photosynthesis to continue. In the wake of this real-life demonstration, various projects are being studied on public buildings, schools, industrial sites.
“It’s the first time such a light, transparent solar technology has been applied to the greenhouses to provide a carbon-free energy solution.”
To accelerate our international development, we recently signed a protocol to create a Joint Venture with Masar Printing and Publishing in Dubai and commercialize our technology in the Middle East/North Africa Region. The Dubai government wants to take its installed power from renewables up to around 1 Gigawatt per year. Our ASCA® film can cover the faces of many skyscrapers in Dubai and contribute to developing solar energy in this region, which has all the ingredients.
We also intend to target energy engineers, construction-related companies, IoT stakeholders, the connected town, vehicle recharging, calling on the expertise of Masar in this part of the world. We have given ourselves five years to deploy our technology, with a long-term yearly volume sales objective of over 500,000m² of photovoltaic film and a turnover of more than €100m.
What’s the news on the project announced this spring for convergence with the German company OPVIUS, a leader in the integration of OPV (organic photovoltaic) flexible solar technology?
This convergence, whose fine details are still under discussion, is a strategic springboard for accelerating the roll-out of our solar innovation projects. It’s also a major step toward taking world leadership in flexible organic photovoltaics. Our convergence would combine Opvius’s unique “free-form” OPV manufacturing technology as well as its know-how in product integration with our industrial power, guaranteeing a very high manufacturing capacity already up-and-running.
OPVIUS has already many completed projects to its name: solarization of the African Union Peace and Security Council’s diplomatic HQ in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), installation of solar shades at the Thüringen State Horticultural Show, and the roofs of several buildings in Germany. The acquisition of OPVIUS should enable us to develop a yearly turnover of more than €100m by 2025 and make ARMOR a world leader from France.
ARMOR is an industrial expert in formulating inks and in the fine coating of thin films. The group is world No.1 in the design and manufacture of thermal transfer tapes dedicated to printing variable traceability data on labels and flexible packaging. As a European leader in print service offerings and innovative expendables and durables, the group is a pioneer in the development and production of industrial inks and innovative materials such as organic solar films, coated collectors for batteries, and bespoke filaments for additive manufacture. With international presence, ARMOR’s workforce stands at almost 1900, spread across twenty or so countries. Its 2018 turnover was €265m. The group invests almost €30m every year in industrial equipment and R&D. ARMOR is a responsible stakeholder committed to serving societal innovation.
Photo credits: ARMOR