Plan: Our drop-in product improves considerably one of the most energy and cost-intensive processes in the photovoltaic (PV) industry by doubling the through-put, reducing the amount of silicon waste and thus saving 6 million tons of CO2 annually. It creates a green manufacturing process for this green technology.
Biography: I was born to two geologists in Houston, Texas. Growing up in an energy-focused family in the extreme geographies of Texas, Louisiana, and Saudi Arabia, I was inspired from an early age to pursue energy technologies that give people the ability to harness clean energy from renewable resources.
To better understand global energy, I pursued degrees in engineering and business at MIT, where my work has focused on energy projects ranging from photovoltaic manufacturing, to solar cooking, to ethanol production, to energy storage for offshore wind turbines. The latter project was presented to President Obama during his visit in 2011.
To gain perspective on the scale of global energy, I interned at ExxonMobil and Shell Oil and worked for a MIT solar manufacturing start-up company. My ongoing PhD work in the Photovoltaics Manufacturing Laboratory at MIT is split between developing cost-cutting, photovoltaic manufacturing technologies in the lab and solar solutions for communities in India. As a Tata Fellow, I work tirelessly to create cost-effective solar powered technologies for the people in the world who need it the most. At the age of 25, I am a co-founder of SachSiSolar Inc. and designed the production equipment for the Clean Liner Technology.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Alison Greenlee, and I am 25 years old. I am originally from Houston, TX and now live in Boston, MA. I have received two Bachelor’s and one Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and business operations at MIT. I am now pursuing my PhD in the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Laboratory at MIT. Outside of my work, I was captain of the MIT Varsity Crew Team, vice-president of the MIT Parliamentary Debate team, President of the MIT Swing Dancing Society, enjoy jazz, ballroom dance, rock-climbing, and traveling as far as my wallet can take me.
What's your entry for the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge?
The photovoltaic (PV) industry annually throws out 90 thousand tons of energy-intensive, high purity silicon (priced at $30/kg) because of contamination. Our product, the Clean Liner, drops into existing photovoltaic manufacturing lines to prevent this contamination and therefore eliminate this costly, carbon-intensive waste-stream. PV companies that adopt our product would immediately double the productivity from their equipment without the need for any investment. Furthermore, lower contamination in the production process would also yield higher efficiency solar panels, further reducing the cost of solar energy. Our product upgrades today's inefficient production lines to enable the manufacturing of superior, lower cost solar panels.
Our product solves one of the costliest real-world problems in the $50 billion PV industry. Because our product can leverage high value from existing manufacturing equipment, we believe that we can expect quick industry adoption. Full industry adoption will eliminate an annual 6 million tons of CO2 just from the saved silicon waste stream. Even greater emission savings will be realized as our cost-cutting technology enables more people to adopt solar energy.
Where did you get this idea?
Our team is very passionate about developing green manufacturing processes for green technologies. We aspire to address real-world environmental problems with economically sustainable, science-based solutions. We believe that reducing waste in the production of solar cells is an opportunity to decrease the cost of producing solar panels for the consumer while improving the economics for the struggling photovoltaic (PV) industry. To make a difference in the industry today, we decided to leverage our scientific and real-world expertise to create a quick-to-market technology that would benefit the photovoltaic industry and make it greener too: thus the Clean Liner was conceived by my co-founder Dr. Christoph Sachs. To achieve this ambitious endeavor in a conservative manufacturing industry, it was essential that our product uses only off-the-shelf materials already produced at scale for alternative applications. We hope that our product can help the PV industry to become greener and more efficient.
Why do you want to contribute to the reduction of CO2-emissions? Where does that drive come from?
I have had the good fortune to visit many natural wonders of the world ranging from the Galapagos Islands, to the deserts of the Middle East, to the reefs of Australia, to the savannahs of Africa. In my travels, I find my peace not with people, but on my own in nature. Spiritually, I find innocence and balance in nature, and intellectually, I am fascinated by the intricacies and inner-workings of natural systems. Thus, I fear the destruction and of these delicate ecosystems and have therefore dedicated my life to developing technologies that can reduce the impact of people's activities on the environment. I believe that through technology, our growing population can lead healthy lives in harmony with our environment. Given the great opportunity that I have to study and develop environmentally conscientious technologies at MIT, I feel that I am well- positioned to make a real and lasting impact on global technologies that reduce CO2-emissions.
What if your product/service comes to market with the help of the €500.000 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge prize. What difference is this going to make and for whom?
Our Clean Liner technology is first going to make an incredible difference for the struggling photovoltaic industry that is presently seeing unsustainably low margins in its production lines. Our product's huge cost-saving potential will result in industry growth and more affordable solar energy for energy consumers around the world. The resulting environmental impact of saving over 6 million tones of CO2 a year along with more installed solar energy systems will create a more sustainable future.