Solar panel efficiency enhancing material from algae

  • Module
  • Recyclability
  • Efficiency
  • Solar power
  • Access
  • Affordability

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Swedish Algae Factory

Published 01 Feb 2017

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Solar panel efficiency enhancing material from algae

Our solution enhances the efficiency of solar panels by getting inspired by nature´s unique innovation capacity for securing the survival of species. We incorporate the shell of a specific algae on the surface of the module glass of a solar panel. The shell material comes from an algae that manage to grow on sunlight on the bottom of dark Nordic seas. In order to make sure that the algae can survive during this conditions this shell material had to be designed in a way that makes the material trap and concentrate light efficiently. The material also need to be strong and durable in order to ensure the survival of the algae species over a long time. The material work as a microlens on the solar panel glass that enables more light to be trapped by the solar panel and increases the power density of the sunlight that is concentrated by the material which enables more sunlight to be converted to electricity. Under non ideal test conditions we have shown that the material can increase the power output of a commercial silicon based solar panel with 4 %. Under more ideal test conditions we expect the increase of power output to be even higher. When the material was incorporated into another type of solar cell that is about to be commercialized called a DSSC (Dye sensitized solar cell), the efficiency of that solar cell was increased with 60 %.

How it benefits society

By enhancing the efficiency of solar panels more solar energy can be produced per square meter of solar panel. Since the material is fairly cheap to produce an incorporation of the material on the solar panel decreases the cost of solar energy by enhancing the efficiency of the solar panel. This will enable solar energy to be more competitive compared to less sustainable energy sources and will enable more solar energy to be derived from a certain solar panel surface which will result in more solar energy in the future global energy mix. The algae based material we enhance the efficiency of the solar panels with is also produced whilst wastewater is treated, carbon dioxide is absorbed and a valuable organic biomass is produced.

Who we are


Swedish Algae Factory
Sofie Allert, Angela Wulff

Swedish Algae Factory was founded two years ago by Sofie Allert and Angela Wulff. Angela Wulff had studied algae that live in cold and dark climates for over 20 years and saw an opportunity to explore the potential of creating an algae industry all year around in Swedish climate conditions with the help of these types of algae and where looking for someone to commercialize the idea. That someone ended up to be Sofie Allert who has a bachelor degree in biotechnology where she did her bachelor thesis on algae and realized the untapped potential of this organism as a source of renewable products in a future bioeconomy. Together they started to explore potential sustainable products that could be derived from the algae and ended up creating a this circular economic business model around the algae. Since then more people have been recruited to the team that today also consist of: Gustav Knutsson, marine biologist that has previously worked with large-scale operation of Simris Alg´s facility in Simrishamn, Mikael Hedblom that has a Master degree in Marine sciences and Justin Pearce that is a process engineer from Australia. The board of directors in the company are Olle Stenberg that started Chalmers Innovation and has during his work at Chalmers Innovation helped several innovations reach the market. Jan Svärd that is a previous manager from Akzo Nobel with experience from selling and setting up larger production facilities and sales of specialty chemicals and materials. Johan Sköld that is Chalmers Venture´s representative in the board and has previously started 27 companies. Together we are a team that is inspired by nature towards creating a more sustainable industry in general and making solar energy more affordable and more significant in the future energy mix.

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