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All thanks to the special flexible solar cells from which the tarpaulin can be made. This solution will help reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption in trucks. 

Although the invention of the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany may have many more applications, solar tarpaulins are the most interesting from the point of view of the transport industry. Thanks to special flexible photovoltaic cells, the tautliners common in the transport sector will soon be able to generate electricity. Thanks to a new ‘photovoltaic fabric’ that will absorb solar energy, tarpaulins will be able to supply the truck with the electricity it needs, for example, during breaks or during loading or unloading. 

We can repair solar cells directly on technical fabrics through various coating processes,” explains Dr. Lars Rebenklau, Head of Systems Integration Group at the Fraunhofer Institute. 

Therefore, the scientists do not use glass or silicon as in the case of traditional solar modules, but rather a fabric as the substrate. This is quite complicated because of the size of the machines in the textile manufacturing companies. Another difficulty is that the fabric has to withstand a temperature of about 200 degrees Celsius during the coating process. Ultimately, however, as Dr Rebenklau announced, the scientists decided to use glass fibre that meets all these requirements. 

Five years from now in the market?

The first prototype of the photovoltaic fabric has already been developed. At the moment, however, its efficiency is between 0.1 and 0.3%. Scientists still have a lot of work to do, because the efficiency of traditional silicon cells varies from 10% to 20%. However, the Fraunhofer Institute has an optimisation plan that will allow it to improve the current efficiency by more than 5%. According to scientists, the photovoltaic tarpaulin can enter the market in about 5 years.

Photo: Trans.INFO

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