Titanium Oxide Film Deposition by Low-Power APS Equipment Using Air Working Gas and Rechargeable Lead Battery
Renewable energies seem to be the only way to increase sustainable electrification; in fact almost 13% of the world’s population do not have access to electricity. Recently, solar cells, especially Si type, have been widely used. However, they require a complex and costly manufacturing. Dye-sensitized solar cells’ (DSSC) constitution is not complex and can be affordably manufactured and maintained, even by the end users, thus suitable for low-income and remote areas people.
In order to develop a cost-effective and environmentally friendly titanium oxide film (TiO2) deposition process for the fabrication of DSSC that can help providing reliable access to electricity, a 2-kW class atmospheric thermal plasma spray (APS) equipment, using air as working gas and rechargeable lead battery, was designed. Moreover, suction powder feeder was used instead of mechanical one. As a matter of fact, commercial APS equipment is very large and expensive since it is designed for film deposition (such as aluminum oxide (Al2O3)) on large-scale structures such as bridges and gas turbine engines. Previously, as a basic study, TiO2 film deposition by the 1-kW class APS equipment using air working gas and grid-connected electric power was conducted and it was confirmed that TiO2 film with lamellar structure could be deposited. In this study, in order to confirm the practicability of the rechargeable battery as the electric power source and to enhance the properties of the deposited Titania, a 2-kW APS equipment using air as working gas and rechargeable lead battery was developed and TiO2 film deposition was carried out. Consequently, compared to the like-for-like grid-powered equipment and using the same input power (1 kW), the use of a lead battery coupled with an inverter in the upstream did not show any influence on the plasma jet.
Using this battery-powered equipment, a strong film with lamellar structure and enough photocatalytic properties could be deposited on a 304 stainless steel substrate; this could be confirmed via methylene-blue decolorization test as well as X-ray diffraction.
Finally, a DSSC using the deposited TiO2 film was assembled and electric power was generated. From these results, this technique was proved to be suitable for the fabrication of low-cost photovoltaic devices to help electrifying remote areas sustainably.
The ultimate goal is to make a standalone film deposition process independent of any external unclean source of energy.
KeywordsTitanium oxide (TiO2) Atmospheric thermal plasma spray (APS) Photovoltaic device Dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC)
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