COBRA (organic cobalt-based low-cost printable large-area photovoltaics) is a three year project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to develop high-efficiency cobalt-based dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). It will cost a total of around EUR 3 million. Merck, the consortium leader, is participating in the research project together with 3GSolar and Colour Synthesis Solutions Ltd. (CSS).
The aim is to significantly increase the efficiency and stability of DSSCs by using, e.g., a new cobalt-based redox system in a non-volatile electrolyte of the cell. Furthermore, the large-area DSSCs being developed are to have a projected lifetime of more than 20 years. This technology will offer an economically interesting alternative in parallel to the photovoltaic technologies already established today.
Merck is contributing to the COBRA project by developing high-performance cobalt-based electrolyte solutions. Over the course of several generations, the electrolyte is precisely tailored to the dyes developed by CSS. The subproject of 3GSolar focuses on optimizing the electrodes and the configuration of the dye-sensitized solar cells.
DSSCs generally convert light over a wide range of intensity into electricity. In both diffuse light and direct sunlight, electricity can be generated without compromising on performance even at elevated temperatures. As their light transmittance can be flexibly adjusted, they are ideally suitable for use in building facades and can contribute, e.g., to supplying energy to office buildings. Further applications for indoor use include mobile charging stations for small electronic devices as well as power supply units for sensors for measuring temperature, air humidity, etc., and for electronic, wireless price displays in the wholesale and retail sector.