Recent Patents on Engineering

Jianjun Yu  
The School of Information Science and Engineering Fudan University
220 Hantan Rd
Shanghai, 200433


Review of Recent Patents on Flexible Photovoltaic Applications in Portable and Niche Markets

Author(s): Ryan Smith, Cristina Crespo and Mateo Aboy

Affiliation: Electrical Engineering & Renewable Energy Department, Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland, OR, 97070, USA.


A state of the art search was conducted of novel applications for flexible photovoltaics (PV) in portable and niche markets. Flexible PV modules are thinner and lighter weight than traditional rigid modules, allowing them to expand into the mobile device market and areas where traditional rigid modules would be impractical. A variety of new applications are currently being developed in this technical field, with 40% of developments occurring within the last 5 years in USPTO subclass 136/245 (Batteries: photoelectric/collapsible or foldable), and 80% in subclass 320/101 (Battery charging/from solar source). The growth is likely attributable to the falling cost of thin film modules, gains in efficiency, and the proliferation of portable devices in recent years. The flexible PV applications discussed in this review are classified in three broad categories: canopies and covers, field-deployable arrays, and portable device chargers. Significant progress has been made in all areas, illustrating some of the key advantages of lightweight flexible PV over rigid crystalline silicon modules for certain applications. Creative support schemes for holding flexible modules in a functional orientation are highlighted and compared. Particular interest has been demonstrated in the category of portable device chargers, and notable opportunities for future development are discussed.

Keywords: Array, collapsible, flexible, inflatable, module, photovoltaic, portable, solar.

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Article Details

Page: [153 - 166]
Pages: 14
DOI: 10.2174/18722121113076660004