Dyesol is an Australian clean-tech company and global supplier of Dye Solar Cell (DSC) chemicals, components, manufacturing equipment and training/consulting. Dyesol's 'capital-light' business model centres around collaboration with significant industrial partners - companies seeking to integrate Dyesol's clean-energy generating Dye Solar Cell technology onto their existing products. In the value chain, Dyesol is the DSC materials (dyes, pastes, electrolytes) supplier and partner providing specialist DSC equipment, technology and know-how. This 'capital light' business model positions Dyesol to derive income from our core knowledge and expertise without the significant investment required in establishing manufacturing plants and elaborate routes-to-market.
Dyesol Limited was formed in 2004 to accelerate the commercial development of Dye Solar Cell technology and build on the DSC work of previous 14 years carried out by Sustainable Technologies International Pty Ltd ("STI"), Greatcell Solar S.A. ("Greatcell"), and Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
Dyesol Company Timeline
Technology Invention in Switzerland
DSC technology was invented at the Institute of Physical Chemistry, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1988 by Brian O'Regan and Michael Graetzel. Their paper 'A low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell based on dye-sensitized colloidal TiO2 films' published in 1991 in the journal, Nature, was the catalyst that spawned a whole new industry and a whole new way of looking at harvesting electrical power from sunlight.
The paper summary reads:
"The large-scale use of photovoltaic devices for electricity generation is prohibitively expensive at present: generation from existing commercial devices costs about ten times more than conventional methods1. Here we describe a photovoltaic cell, created from low-to medium-purity materials through low-cost processes, which exhibits a commercially realistic energy-conversion efficiency. The device is based on a 10-µm-thick, optically transparent film of titanium dioxide particles a few nanometres in size, coated with a monolayer of a charge-transfer dye to sensitize the film for light harvesting. Because of the high surface area of the semiconductor film and the ideal spectral characteristics of the dye, the device harvests a high proportion of the incident solar energy flux (46%) and shows exceptionally high efficiencies for the conversion of incident photons to electrical current (more than 80%). The overall light-to-electric energy conversion yield is 7.1-7.9% in simulated solar light and 12% in diffuse daylight. The large current densities (greater than 12 mA cm-2) and exceptional stability (sustaining at least five million turnovers without decomposition), as well as the low cost, make practical applications feasible."
- Brian O'Regan & Michael Graetzel, Nature 353, 737 - 740, 24 October 1991, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v353/n6346/abs/353737a0.html
Since that time Professor Graetzel, now at Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), has remained strongly focused on DSC technology, received numerous awards and accolades in relation to the invention of DSC, and maintained close links to Dyesol as Chairman of Dyesol's Technical Advisory Board.
In the short video and interview to the left, Professor Graetzel talks about the exciting 'Eureka Moment' he shared with his then student, and now Dyesol Chief Scientist, Dr. Hans Desilvestro.
The Early Days
From 1994, STI and Greatcell teams in Australia and Switzerland further developed DSC technology and established the world's first DSC prototype manufacturing facility in Australia in 2000. Key to that development phase was the invention of processes, new materials, and equipment to manufacture DSC products.
Dyesol acquired the laboratory, manufacturing equipment and intellectual property which has resulted in a portfolio of patents that Dyesol before mid-2005. Dyesol acquired STI in 2006 and Greatcell in 2007.
In 2005, Dyesol was accepted onto the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX: DYE) under the leadership of founding directors Richard Caldwell, Sylvia Tulloch, Gordon Thompson and Cathryn Curtin.
Public listing early in the Company's history was a necessary method for accessing capital to support Dyesol's research and development activities to advance the commercialisation of DSC photovoltaic technology as the venture capital resources in Australia are limited.
Collaborative Business Model and DSC Industry Seeding
In 2005, Dyesol adopted its strategy to fast-track development of DSC by partnering with industrial entities in key markets such as the Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) market, which industry analyst, NanoMakets, forecasts to exceeds $7.5 Billion/annum by 2015. In these collaborations, Dyesol's role is to value-add DSC photovoltaic functionality into our partners' products which positions Dyesol to benefit through the sale of DSC chemicals, components, equipment and consulting/training.
Dyesol also develops relationships with leading research institutions and universities, both as research partners and as customers for our materials and equipment. Dyesol forms alliances with world leading materials companies for high volume contract manufacture and collaborative development of next generation DSC chemicals.
Dyesol's carefully planned global partnering program, seeding research and commercialisation projects around the world with Dyesol manufactured equipment, pilot production lines, materials and hard earned skills and know-how, has tremendously accelerated the development of the technology.
Dyesol's International Conference on the Industrialisation of DSC: DSC-IC Conference
In 2005, Dyesol launched the first International Conference on the Industrialisation of DSC, or DSC-IC for short, which brings together international scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs and industrialists for knowledge-sharing, collaboration and networking. This preeminent DSC event was successfully held in Australia in 2006, in Switzerland in 2007, in Japan in 2009, and in Colorado, USA in 2010.
Dyesol benefits from an investment of almost 700 person-years in DSC technology, and has benefited - and continues to benefit - from a close connection to EPFL in Switzerland, where further DSC advances are still achieved. Today, after the DSC effect was successfully demonstrated in Switzerland in the early 1990s, Dyesol is proud to be a leader in the field of Dye Solar Cell technology and proud to supply the industry's highest quality, highest purity DSC materials to customers in more than 30 countries around the world.
Current DSC commercialisation projects include work now underway to integrate Dye Solar Cell technology into a range of commercial product solutions, including a 'green alternative' to standard glass building facade and windows and a 'green-alternative' steel roofing product.