Tau Science targets solar industry with assist from OSU
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Oregon State University sstudents use Tau Science's Flash QE to test solar cells.
Tau Science has partnered with Oregon State University to develop a beta version of its latest solar product for use at the school. Students at OSU’s Oregon Process Innovation Center for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing will now be testing Tau’s Flash QE, thanks to a $190,000 grant from the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center to OSU to fund its purchase.
The partnership is helping Beaverton-based Tau Science gain a foothold in the growing solar industry while giving OSU students a chance to broaden research related to sustainable solar manufacturing.
Tau Science is designing products to guarantee quality for solar cells, a sticky issue for manufacturers while industry-standard warranties run long.
“Solar panels have a 25-year warranty and I don’t know where that number came from but everybody deeply regrets that number. I can’t think of any other product that gives a 25-year warranty except maybe roofing material,” said Jamie Hudson, president of Tau Science.
Regardless, solar manufacturers are beginning to incur their first significant costs for cell failure. Tau Science — named for the Tau parameter, which measures the lifespan of solar cells — designs equipment intended to avoid cell failure and its related costs.
The three-year-old company’s first product, IRIS, detects hot spots in solar cells, or a defect in the cell that can lead to overheating and module breakdown. The product will be integrated into the manufacturing line at one unnamed solar manufacturer next year.
IRIS sales will fund Tau Science as the four-man company develops its second product, Flash QE. Both are priced at about $150,000 per unit.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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