Dr Michael Owen-Bellini, visits Bangor, from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

On Wednesday 28thAugust 2019 Dr Michael Owen-Bellini, from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) visited Bangor. Invited by the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

Dr Owen-Bellini gave a research seminar titled “Advancing Reliability Assessments of Photovoltaic Modules and Materials through Combined-Accelerated Stress Testing: A pathway to 50 year service life”. Researchers are searching for better and improved ways to create energy, and to reduce our reliance on carbon-based energy creation methods. Photovoltaic modules in solar cells provide one of these solutions. In his talk, Dr Owen-Bellini challenged us to think how long these devices would last in service, and what tests we could do to see how robust the solar devices are. He presented a technique that the NREL had developed, called the Combined-accelerated stress test (C-AST). Which has several phases. One set of tests mimic a “tropical summer”. The photovoltaic devices are stress tested with heat, moisture and motion. Another set of tests mimic a drier, desert-like climate, where the devices are stress tested under temperatures from very hot to very cold.  “The event was very interesting. Renewable energy is often in the news. Yet we don’t often think about how long these devices will last in the wild. Dr Owen-Bellini challenged us to think about the tests that we make on our devices, especially solar cells”, said Professor Jonathan Roberts. 







Dr Michael Owen-Bellini (left) with Dr Jeff Kettle (right).

In the afternoon Dr Owen-Bellini was given a tour of clean room and test equipment of the School. He held several discussions with members of the academic staff. 

Dr Jeff Kettle (Director of Research in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering) said "Reliability testing is an important research area for us within the School. We were pleased to host Dr Owen-Bellini, and look forward to future collaboration.” 

The School has several ongoing projects that focus on this area, especially the Bangor Outdoor Monitoring System (BOMS) that focuses on testing OPV modules in outdoor conditions, thereby allowing the energy yield of next generation technologies to be tested under real world conditions as well as understanding the influence of simultaneous stress factors on the stability and degradation of the devices. 

Dr Iestyn Pierce (Head of School) said “It was good to host Dr Owen-Bellini. A multitude of testing chambers are available at the School of Electronic Engineering, which allow a wide range of environmental conditions to be simulated. In addition, data analytical techniques and machine learning are employed in order to better understand the effects of various climatic conditions and more accurately predict performance as well as the prominent factors governing the degradation of organic solar cell modules – a factor which remains at the forefront of research priorities in order to realize commercialization of these up and coming technologies.”

Publication date: 9 September 2019