The American-Made Solar Prize Round 4 semifinalist teams have been working diligently over the past several months preparing their technologies for their first event: Set! Demo Day. Since learning of their status as Round 4 semifinalists in December 2020, these 20 teams have been developing proofs-of-concept, performing rigorous customer discovery processes, and cultivating a network of mentors and partners to help advance their technologies.
Now, these innovators will present their products in the hopes of becoming a Round 4 finalist.
The Solar Prize team invites friends, family, peers, industry experts, and anyone interested in solar innovation to hear the semifinalists pitch their technologies in a live virtual setting and find out who moves on to the Go! Contest as a finalist. Events include:
Solar Prize Round 4 Set! Pitch Showcase, Friday, March 26, 1-5 p.m. ET: Teams present live pitches of their innovations to a panel of investors and a public audience in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University’s Energy Week 2021, followed by a networking event.
Set! Demo Day Q&A Session, Thursday, April 8: Teams participate in a private Q&A session with a panel of expert reviewers.
Set! Demo Day Finalist Announcement, Friday, April 9, 2 p.m. ET: A live virtual event featuring U.S. Department of Energy leadership, guest speakers, and the announcement of finalist teams.
Tune in on April 9 to hear Energy Department leadership announce the 10 Round 4 finalists, each earning $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers, and moving on to the Go! Contest.
Details on the Round 4 semifinalist teams and their technologies can be found below. View each team's video pitch, listed in alphabetical order. Contact details for each team is also available for those who are interested in reaching out for more information.
This team is developing a flat-plate solar-thermal energy collector system that operates at more than 150 degrees Celsius with efficiencies greater than 60%. Transparent aerogel insulation enables this performance, minimizes heat loss, allows for simpler receiver design, and reduces cost.
This inverter seamlessly switches between grid-following mode and grid-forming mode in the event of a power interruption, allowing it to establish a temporary microgrid that keeps power flowing from on-site solar without needing on-site batteries.
This team is developing a new, high-power (greater than 6.5 kilovolts), SiC semiconductor device that will enable the direct connection of PV to the medium-voltage grid through solid-state transformers. This will reduce the cost of interconnecting solar installations to the grid and expand U.S. leadership in advanced power electronics manufacturing.
This team’s SolaBlock wall system embeds a PV panel in a cinderblock foe solar-integrated building solutions. The system also enables the PV module to operate at a cooler temperature, intended for greater efficiency and durability relative to conventional modules.
This team’s lightweight, self-charging, solar-powered vehicle has 40–50 miles of range and speeds of 20¬–35 miles per hour. A built-in solar panel charges the vehicle, eliminating collection and charging challenges associated with scooters, e-bikes, and other popular micro-mobility solutions.
This team’s silica shield’s nanostructure prevents the buildup of dirt and other particulates on solar panels to increase energy yield. By developing a robotic surface treatment and coating application process, the team can provide the shield as a retrofit solution.
This team’s solar panel waste-recycling program aims to maximize the recovery of pure metals from end-of-life solar panels, using an electrochemical-hydrothermal recycling method instead of high temperatures and burning waste gases.
This tracker system is designed to reduce a PV system’s weight and number of required roof penetrations, so that more commercial and industrial rooftops can host a PV system. This system tracks the sun using a rocking motion, like a rocking chair, eliminating bearings and hinges from the support frame that require roof penetrations.
This team’s room-temperature liquid metal alloy makes highly reflective films targeted for use in CSP parabolic troughs for industrial heat applications. Their process uses spray coating, which is easier and less expensive than existing methods for making mirrors.
This cell-level battery management and reconditioning device decreases battery degradation and extends the life of new and recycled batteries by up to 30%. This improves the lifetime, performance, and cost of PV storage systems and enables repurposing of used batteries.
This team is developing an electro-dynamic shield layer that can be placed on the glass of solar panels to prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt. This is particularly impactful in dry desert regions, where soiling can greatly reduce solar energy production.
This team is developing a low-cost, passive solar air heater made from plastic and post-consumer resins instead of metal. The Solar AirWall can convert sunlight to heat at over 60% efficiency, even in low light and windy conditions.
This team is creating a solar panel with a nano-textured heatsink. The heatsink’s structure increases the surface area of the back of the solar panel, helping the panel dissipate heat and lowering its peak operating temperature. The lower temperature may make the solar panel last longer.
This team, based at Purdue University, is improving the stability of perovskite materials. Addressing the chemical stability of perovskites will greatly accelerate the commercialization of perovskite PV technology.
This team is developing a plug-and-play system comprised of a portable solar array and a battery backup unit. The Mighty Power System is designed to be assembled into large power-generating arrays that can be quickly broken down and redeployed in emergencies to provide instant power.
This team has developed a rooftop solar-canopy racking system that avoids roof penetrations and maximizes the energy yield benefits by using bifacial modules. This application is targeted for multi-family buildings, which often do not have the roof space to accommodate existing solar solutions.
Find out which 10 teams will become finalists, earning $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers, and advancing to the final phase of competition.