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Innovation & Design: Saving Electricity With Solar Power

Powerfilm Solar


Solar panels used to be heavy, obtrusive and costly. They are now getting thinner and more affordable with fast-changing technology. In fact, they can be as thin and flexible as a photography film, an option which opens up a world of possibilities. Posibilities like the rollable, waterproof, film-like solar panels manufactured by Iowa-based Powerfilm Solar. The company, founded by two ex-3M physicists, is manufacturing a range of lower-cost solar-power products with a wide array of applications, including military ones. A 40' sailboat recently used these rollable panels atop its Bimini. They can be affixed with zippers or velcro, or even be laminated right onto the fabric. The solar panels, which generate 160 watts at 9 to10 amps, can charge everything from cell phone or radio batteries to 12-volt battery banks and electric motors. Thanks to their sturdy design and flexiblity, the panels can be rolled up for storage, fully charged after a day in the sun, and be unrolled for later use, at night or on a rainy day.

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