Crowdfunding is an excellent way for small renewable energy startups to access the capital they need to make the transition to commercialization. One such company, Rayton Solar, has raised over $1 million in seed money through crowdfunding sites such as Fundable. Rayton plans to use these funds to commercialize what could possibly be a revolutionary process for manufacturing solar cells.
Rayton’s process utilizes only 4 microns of silicon with zero waste in manufacturing, which is 1/50 to 1/100 less silicon (the most expensive component of a solar panel) than the industry standard. Conventional wafers are over 200 microns thick and waste more than 60% of the raw material. Rayton Solar is also the only commercial solar manufacturer capable of using Float Zone Silicon; a higher grade silicon that is 25% more efficient than the industry standard.
Here is how Rayton’s patented technology works:
- They use a particle accelerator (virtually a laser beam) to conduct ion implantation – they blast H+ protons directly into a silicon ingot (raw material)
- Next they attach the silicon to a substrate and exfoliate directly off the ingot with zero silicon waste,
- They then conduct screen-print wiring and finalize the solar cells with anti reflective coatings.
- The finished cells then go through conventional module assembly lines to become solar panels for residential, commercial, and utility use.
Historically, float zone silicon has been uneconomical for use in solar panels, but since Rayton’s process reduces the amount of silicon needed to make a wafer, it becomes an viable option. The company believes their process and it’s resulting 60% savings over typical solar panel manufacturing costs, will allow them to be competitive with foreign produced panels.
Rayton has developed working solar cells and expects the one million dollars in seed financing that they have raised to date, to get them through the process of becoming UL-certified. Rayton has also partnered with a large U.S.-based residential installer to buy their product once production begins.
Here is their video from Fundable:
Tracey is an accountant and entrepreneur with a passion for nature. This passion is what spurred her interest in renewable energy, and the rest is history as they say. Tracey is a principal in Energy Think Group, the publisher of Solar Thermal Magazine and Tek-Think. She is also the principal at Women's Financial Help Desk. She spends her free time in the outdoors with her horses and dogs. She loves to travel.