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Sunhusky.png Developed by Michigan Tech's Open Sustainability Technology Lab. For more see MOST's Appropedia Hub.

Wanted: Grad students interested in making a solar-powered open-source 3-D printing and distributed manufacturing future. Apply now.
Contact: Professor Joshua Pearce



Welcome to the home of the Pearce Research Group at Michigan Tech in Open Sustainability Technology. This research group focuses on open and applied sustainability, which is the application of science and innovation to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.

Specifically we are interested in exploring the way solar photovoltaic technology can sustainably power our society and how open-source hardware like open source appropriate technologies (or OSAT) and RepRap 3-D printing can drive decentralized local production and manufacturing. See Advancing Open, Sustainable Technology with 3D Printing

We have a strong open access policy. See all recent publications organized by category.

This page is part of an international project to use RepRap 3-D printing to make OSAT for sustainable development. Learn more.

Research: Open source 3-D printing of OSAT RecycleBot LCA of home recyclingGreen Distributed Recycling Ethical Filament LCA of distributed manufacturingRepRap LCA Energy and CO2 Solar-powered RepRaps Feasibility hub Mechanical testingRepRap printing protocol: MOST‎ Lessons learnedMOST RepRap BuildMOST Prusa BuildMOST HS RepRap buildRepRap Print Server

Make me: Want to build a MOST RepRap? - Start here!Delta Build Overview:MOSTMOST metal 3-D printer

[edit] Current Research Projects

Photovoltaic Materials, Electronic Device Physics, and Solar Photovoltaic Systems Projects Lead Members
Nanocolumns ingan.jpgMTU MBE Front.JPG Given the state of the art in solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and favorable financing terms it is clear that PV has already obtained grid parity in specific locations and as installed costs continue to decline, grid electricity prices continue to escalate, and industry experience increases, PV will become an increasingly economically advantageous source of electricity over expanding geographical regions.[1]

We intend to further reduce the costs by developing an ultra-high efficiency indium gallium nitride (InGaN) solar cell. [2] The band gap of InGaN can be tuned from 0.7eV-3.4eV by adjusting the ratio of indium and gallium in the film so a multi-layered cell covers the entire range of the solar spectrum. Thus, a well-designed InGaN solar cell can absorb and convert a much higher fraction of the sun’s light energy into electricity. The first stage of research will focus on the characterization and understanding of InGaN as a semiconducting material. The final stage of research will use the accumulated data and knowledge to determine the number of stacked layers and the relative concentrations of indium and gallium within each that maximizes light absorption and, more importantly, electricity generation.

In addition to band gap engineering, PV device performance can be improved by engineering the microstructure of the material to increase the optical path length and provide light trapping. For this purpose, nano-columns are candidates for the ideal microstructure as it has been shown that when their diameters are optimized, resonant behavior is observed.

Dr. Pearce
Plasmonics cell.png Plasmonic Perfect Meta-Absobers for a-Si PV Devices: Light impinging on a metal surface produces surface waves (Surface Plasmon Polaritons (SPP)) along the metal-dielectric interface when it interacts with the collective oscillations of free electrons in the metal.

This research project aims to improve the efficiency of commercial thin film solar cells using resonant plasmonic nanostructures. The project proposes the use of a wide-angle, polarization–independent, broadband “perfect absorbers” capable of achieving absorption throughout the entire solar spectrum while reducing semiconductor absorber layer thicknesses, which reduces material deposition time, quantities of material used, embodied energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and ultimately economic costs. The proposed cell design uses silver (Ag) nanostructures to create a “black” perfect absorber that can be integrated into the manufacture of commercial hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) thin film PV devices.

Jephias Gwamuri, Chenlong Zhang, Ankit Vora
SEARC OTF.jpg An important factor in decreasing the costs of PV systems is implementing a proper system design which effectively utilizes the modules to their greatest efficiency. Thus the motivation of this project is to properly account for meteorological factors which affect the performance of PV modules, and to suggest best practices for reducing losses and increasing yields for PV systems. See: OSOTF and Effects of spectral albedo on photovoltaic devices Rob Andrews

Open Source Distributed Manufacturing Lead Members
MOST delta2.JPG The technological evolution of the 3-D printer (or rapid prototyper), widespread internet access and inexpensive computing has made a new means of open design capable of accelerating self-directed sustainable development. We are on the front lines of a 3D Revolution. Open source 3-D printers, such as the RepRap, enable the use of designs in the public domain to fabricate open source 3-D printing of OSAT, which are easily and economically made from readily available resources by local communities to meet their needs. There is potential for open source 3-D printers to assist in driving sustainable development. This project is developing solar powered self-replicating open-source 3-D printers and waste plastic extruders - capable of making primary components of solar photovoltaic systems from recycled waste. The project has both technical components in actually designing and building the devices, but also concerns questions of life cycle analysis. - specifically - Does this approach make sense from an ecological footprint, emissions, and embodied energy perspectives?

See the plan: J. M Pearce, C. Morris Blair, K. J. Laciak, R. Andrews, A. Nosrat and I. Zelenika-Zovko, “3-D Printing of Open Source Appropriate Technologies for Self-Directed Sustainable Development”, Journal of Sustainable Development 3(4), pp. 17-29 (2010).

How would global society change if everyone had access to abundant low-cost renewable energy via solar electricity, open source 3D designs and an affordable open source 3-D printer like the RepRap?

Dr. Pearce
Sparks1.jpg This project is to further develop our <$2000 open-source metal 3-D printer. The metal 3-D printer is controlled with an open-source micro-controller and is a combination of a low-cost commercial gas-metal MIG welder and a derivative of the Rostock, a deltabot RepRap. The bill of materials, electrical and mechanical design schematics, and basic construction and operating procedures are provided. We are climbing the ladder of sophistication to give everyone the ability to print useful objects i nsteel and aluminum. Bas Wijnen, Eli Gooding, Allie Glover
Dogbone.png The purpose of this project is to determine mechanical properties of polymer components printed with the open-source 3-D printers like the RepRap. The results of the mechanical testing will be used for engineering analysis of parts designed to be created with the RepRap. See :Mechanical testing of polymer components made with the RepRap 3-D printer Brennan Tymrak
Recyclebot-process.png A RecycleBot is a waste plastic extruder - that can take household polymer waste and turn it into valuable 3-D printer feedstock. This project focuses on designing, building and testing an extruder for the RepRap that uses polymer waste as a feedstock. The Recyclebot v.2 is based off of the Waste plastic extruder and Open source controller for polymer extruder We are also investigating Life cycle analysis of distributed polymer recycling, Development and feasibility of applications for the RepRap 3-D printer Emily Hunt
Laserw.JPG Open source hardware (OSHW) consists of physical artifacts of technology designed and offered in the same manner as free and open-source software (FOSS). MOST is working on open-source scientific hardware using Arduino microcontrollers and RepRaps in addition to our standard work in OSAT. Ben Wittbrodt

[edit] Completed Projects

Pearce Publications By Topic: Energy Conservation Energy Policy Industrial SymbiosisLife Cycle Analysis Open Source Photovoltaic Materials Solar Cells Photovoltaic SystemsSustainable Development Sustainability Education

Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Group Completed Projects and Publications 2014
Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Group Completed Projects and Publications 2013

OSE tour of MOST lab 2
OSE tour of MOST lab 1

[edit] Group Links

[edit] References

  1. K. Branker, M.J.M. Pathak, J.M. Pearce, A Review of Solar Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Electricity, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, pp.4470-4482 (2011). DOI and Open access
  2. D.V.P. McLaughlin & J.M. Pearce, "Progress in Indium Gallium Nitride Materials for Solar Photovoltaic Energy Conversion", Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A 44(4) pp. 1947-1954 (2013).


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