ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque startup Osazda Energy LLC is undertaking a two-year battery of tests to see how well its newly developed “MetZilla” paste can protect solar systems against cracking and degradation.
The U.S. Department of Energy approved a $1.25 million grant to test the composite material, which University of New Mexico and Air Force Research Laboratory scientists jointly created to prolong the life of solar modules.
The paste, dubbed MetZilla to indicate Godzilla-infused metal, is made by meshing carbon nanotubes with silver, the standard alloy used to conduct electricity in solar cells and panels. Osazda says the paste can keep metal conducting lines intact even as modules crack over time from extreme weather and other hazards.
The New Mexico Angels, a group of about 70 individuals who pool their resources to invest in startups, launched Osazda in 2017 to take MetZilla to market. But the company must first prove how well the material actually works, measuring its ability to keep solar cells and modules functioning under stress compared with systems without the paste, said Osazda Chief Technology Officer Sang Han, a UNM regents professor in both the Chemical and Biological Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering departments.
“We’ll do extensive stress testing beyond what would normally be required to certify effectiveness,” Han said. “We want to prove it will extend the life of solar cells.”
Four national partners will assist in the testing process, including Sandia National Laboratories, the CFV Solar Test Lab in Albuquerque, the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, and California company D2Solar.
UNCC will make the silicon solar cells and D2Solar will assemble the modules. CFV will conduct the stress testing, and Sandia will apply a digital imaging technology that captures views of the entire panel when it’s operating and of cracks in the cells.
“Sandia will image the modules before and after the stress tests to measure cracks with and without the composite paste,” Han said. “It’s a two-year project to prove our paste manages all cracks under different types of stress.”
The testing process can help Osazda improve the paste formation and application process while demonstrating its benefits as the company prepares for market launch, said New Mexico Angels President and Osazda CEO John Chavez.
“MetZilla has very minimal impact on the manufacturing costs for solar systems, but it has real benefits on the back end,” Chavez said. “It can prolong the life of solar systems, allowing for increased production, reduced maintenance, and less insurance costs for manufacturers to provide warranties on solar panels.”
We are proud to announce that the novel technology licensed by GPER G-1 Development Group, a New Mexico Start-Up Factory II Portfolio Company, has recently been published by Science Translational Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). GPER-G-1 is a drug development company with the primary goal of advancing novel drug candidates discovered at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Currently identified indications for the drug candidates include obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, fibrosis and bacterial infection.
The manuscript titled “Preclinical efficacy of the first-in-class GPER-selective agonist Tespria in mouse models of obesity and diabetes,” was written by Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief of the Division of Molecular Medicine, Eric Prossnitz. This publication highlights the recent discovery of the novel G protein-coupled Estrogen Receptor (GPER) as a novel therapeutic target for obesity and diabetes.
PRECLINICAL EFFICACY OF THE GPER-SELECTIVE AGONIST G-1 IN MOUSE MODELS OF OBESITY AND DIABETES
Mimicking estrogen to target metabolism
agonist of one of estrogen’s receptors, the G protein–coupled estrogen receptor (GPER), may have a similar, but more targeted potential as a therapeutic in metabolic disease. In ovariectomized mice, a model of postmenopausal obesity, G-1 agonist treatment increased energy expenditure and had beneficial effects on weight, adiposity, metabolism, and inflammation. However, unlike traditional estrogen replacement therapy, GPER agonism did not affect bone density or result in uterine feminizing effects. G-1 also elicited weight loss in ovariectomized mice on a high-fat diet and prevented weight gain in obese male mice.
Science Translational Medicine 29 Jan 2020: Vol. 12, Issue 528, eaau5956 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau5956
By Megan Martin – Research Assistant , Albuquerque Business First Jan 6, 2020, 12:06pm MST Updated Jan 6, 2020, 12:45pm MST
This marks the 16th year that Albuquerque Business First will honor women who have made a positive and influential impact in the New Mexico business community.
Our judges have selected 24 honorees for the 16th annual Women of Influence awards. While each recipient has a different background, from health care to law and everything in between, they all have one thing in common: their dedication and contributions to the community around them.
Take a look at the accompanying slideshow to meet all of the 2020 Women of Influence honorees.
The awards will take place on Feb. 24 at Sandia Resort and Casino. The awards and luncheon will be preceded by Bizwomen Mentoring Monday, an event in which attendees will have the opportunity to participate in one-on-one coaching sessions with various mentors, as well as take part in roundtable discussions.
The selection process for this year’s Women of Influence awards began with an open call for nominations. Those who were nominated were then asked to submit an application with information for our judges. Our judges, leaders in the business community including multiple alumna of the award, evaluated the applicants on professional achievement, leadership and community involvement. The top scorers were named honorees. Judges recused themselves from voting on any applicants with whom they had close ties.
Four out of every 10 businesses in the U.S. are women-owned, according to a study by American Express. Women-owned businesses in the U.S. saw a growth rate of 58% from 2007 to 2018, compared to the overall national growth of 12% for all businesses.
The 2020 Women of Influence awards is sponsored by Wells Fargo and Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, and nationally sponsored by Girl Scouts. Event partners are Heritage Audio Visual, Bryan’s Photography LLC and The Recognition Place. National partners include the American Business Women’s Association and the National Association of Women Business Owners.
University of New Mexico and Air Force Research Laboratory scientists have teamed up to prolong the life of solar modules by harnessing the Atom Ant-like strength of carbon nanotubes.
The scientists, Sang M. Han of UNM and David Wilt of AFRL in New Mexico, created a composite material that meshes carbon nanotubes with silver, the standard metal used to conduct electricity in solar cells and modules. They call it MetZilla, or Godzilla-infused metal, which they say could extend the life of solar panels to a minimum of 35 years, and potentially up to 50.
MetZilla, they say, can keep the metal conducting lines on solar cells intact even as the modules crack over time from extreme weather and other hazards. That could substantially lower the cost of solar cells and panels while boosting electric output from photovoltaic systems.
Cracking and cell degradation are chronic problems in solar systems, especially since the industry has moved to much thinner solar cells and modules to lower production and installation costs. As the panels get thinner, they become more vulnerable, making them more prone to degradation from the elements.
MetZilla’s potential to solve that problem attracted the New Mexico Angels, a group of about 70 individuals who pool their resources to invest in startups. The Angels launched Osazda Energy LLC in 2017 to take MetZilla to market through their Startup Factory, an incubator the Angels set up in 2012 to commercialize promising technologies developed at UNM and other state research universities.
“This is something that’s really needed in the PV market,” said Angels President and now Osazda CEO John Chavez. “The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has consistently listed this as the No.1 or No. 2 problem in the solar industry in recent years. If we can solve the problem of cracking and degradation, the market is ready, willing and able to adopt our product.”
The company received $1.5 million in grants this year to further develop and prove their technology from the Durable Module Materials Consortium, or DuraMAT, which groups the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories, research universities and solar manufacturers together in an alliance to build new materials and designs for PV modules.
The company previously received a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the Air Force, $50,000 in matching funds from the state Economic Development Department, and an undisclosed investment from the Angels.
It’s now doing robust laboratory testing to show how MetZilla-infused solar cells hold up against extreme temperature changes and pressure compared with cells with standard metal conducting lines, said Han, a UNM regents professor in both the Chemical and Biological Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering departments.
The goal is to keep electricity moving through the metal lines despite cracks on the solar cells, which tend to pull those lines apart over time. That disrupts electric flow and eventually interrupts it altogether as module degradation leads to open gaps in the lines.
“We introduce cracks into the solar cells and then we push them up and down with a plunger and submit them to thermal (hot and cold) cycling to see how the cracks progress over time with and without the MetZilla paste,” Han said. “We’re at the stage of minimodule qualification, not rooftop-size modules. We want to prove the technology out first at a smaller module scale.”
The tests have shown MetZilla can easily bridge conducting-line gaps caused by cracks in cells of up to 30 microns, and well above 70 microns in some cases, Han said.
Solar cells with standard metal lines generally separate with solar cell cracks of under 5 microns.
The key to MetZilla is the carbon nanotubes fused into the metal paste. The nanotubes are mechanically strong and have good electrical and thermal conductivity, said Wilt, a senior physicist and technical adviser for the Spacecraft Component Technology Branch of the AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate.
As the metal lines get stretched from cracking on the solar cells, MetZilla helps bridge those gaps, Wilt said. In addition, the carbon nanotubes help heal the gaps in the lines.
“MetZilla maintains electric flow because the carbon nanotubes seek each other out,” Wilt said. “They reconnect with each other in a self-healing process.”
Wilt first thought of injecting carbon nanotubes into metal conducting lines while working to resolve solar-cell cracking and module degradation in Air Force spacecraft. He sought Han’s help in 2012 to develop the technology, backed by a $180,000 internal AFRL grant that supported about three years of joint research that included some of Han’s students.
They patented the technology together through the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech transfer office.
“It’s a joint project,” said STC President and CEO Lisa Kuuttila. “It’s led to the first company created based on joint research between UNM and the AFRL.”
Apart from industry, the technology could benefit U.S. defense agencies, said AFRL Technology Engagement Office Director Matthew Fetrow.
“The Air Force could be a customer for that technology,” Fetrow said. “There are both commercial and defense markets for it.”
The company has created two MetZilla products, the MetZilla paste for use in terrestrial solar systems, and a MetZilla plating technology for use in solar powered spacecraft.
The paste is used as an ink to lay down metal lines on solar cells with a standard screen printer. The plating technology is for more robust solar panels for spacecraft. It uses an electroplating process to deposit MetZilla-based conducting lines by dipping negatively charged solar cells into a liquid solution that contains positively charged MetZilla ions, which then attach to pre-designed line patterns on the cell.
The company aims to have its first products ready for market in about 18 months. It employs seven people at two offices at UNM’s Science and Technology Park, and at the Sandia Science and Technology Park. Hans conducts lab work at UNM.