The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $679,413 to start-up company WattGlass to help commercialize the University of Arkansas’ patent-pending coating technology that makes glass anti-reflective, self-cleaning and highly transparent.
Brennen Freiburger (from left), Corey Thompson and Drew Fleming form the core of WattGlass' technical team. (Credit: University of Arkansas)
The award was made through the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative. WattGlass’ nanoparticle-based coating will increase the efficiency of solar panels and reduce their cleaning and maintenance costs, said Corey Thompson, chief technology officer for WattGlass.
WattGlass is affiliated with the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, an innovation hub that works in association with the university to commercialize emerging technologies.
The company will use the SunShot the award to work with leading solar panel manufacturers and integrate their coating with the glass currently used in panel production. The project will result in over 240 panels being installed in test arrays distributed around the country.
“The SunShot award is highly respected and will enable us to scale our best-in-class anti-reflective coating quickly by working with leaders in the solar industry,” Thompson said. “This 14-month project is structured to move our technology from the lab to the marketplace where we believe it can have an enormous impact on the cost of solar generated electricity.”
Thompson co-founded WattGlass in 2014 to commercialize technology he developed through his doctoral research under Min Zou, professor of mechanical engineering at the U of A. The technology allows WattGlass to deposit a high performance antireflective coating using water-based chemistry that is cheaper than current alternatives, while also providing a self-cleaning and anti-fog surface that has applications in solar and other markets.
The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to drive innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Department of Energy supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.
Thompson holds a doctorate in microelectronics-photonics from the U of A.
About the Arkansas Research and Technology Park: The Arkansas Research and Technology Park, managed by the University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation, offers a unique business, research, and entrepreneurial environment to nurture innovation and commercialization of breakthrough technologies to stimulate Arkansas' knowledge-based economy and provide quality employment opportunities for University of Arkansas graduates.