The vision and Mission of the Materials Engineering Laboratory:
The perfect energy solution is renewable, universally affordable, abundant, benign and contributes to the world’s ecological well-being.
Our mission is to produce cost effective photovoltaics in volumes that make an ecological contribution using research, innovation, advanced manufacturing and six sigma process.
The world's six billion inhabitants currently use the energy equivalent of 400 trillion megawatt-hours of electricity per year — the output of 300,000 typical power plants. If all the world's inhabitants could afford the cost and had access to electric power lines, this figure would be far greater.
With the world's population expected to reach over eight billion by the year 2025, an increase of 80 percent in annual global energy production will be required, or almost 12 trillion barrels of oil per year. At this rate, scientists are predicting that fossil fuel use will peak by the year 2030. As oil, coal, nuclear and natural gas reserves decrease and environmental problems escalate, the use of renewable energy is expected to increase significantly from the current levels.
Clean renewable energy sources include wind energy, solar energy including photovoltaics, geothermal energy and hydroelectric power. To be effective, these technologies must be reliable and inexpensive to produce. However, wind and geothermal energy sources are suitable only in some regions.
Efforts are underway at Colorado State to make renewable energy more cost-effective and efficient for widespread use. By using byproducts of the copper and zinc mining industry and turning ordinary window glass into solar panels, a team of investigators has developed a manufacturing technology that can turn photovoltaics into the most cost-effective, clean and efficient energy source on the market.
The team first demonstrated this technology on a machine that produces 3"x 3" solar cells; and then on 2ft X 4ft by Abound Solar. Abound Solar is commercializing the research from the Materials Engineering Laboratory. The innovations they have made in the areas of production process, production hardware and design of PV modules have the potential to reduce the cost of manufacturing PV modules to less than $1/watt. At these costs, solar electricity will be competitive with current methods of electricity generation in most areas of the U.S. and the world.