Osazda Energy, a solar technology startup company founded by a School of Engineering faculty member, has been selected for U.S. Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II funding of $1.1 million.

Osazda Energy was started in 2017 by Sang M. Han, department chair and Regents’ professor of chemical and biological engineering at UNM.

Osazda is being awarded for “An Optimization-Based Design Ecosystem Targeting Performance, Reliability, and Stability of Photovoltaic Modules in Solar Energy Market.” The company will develop a user-friendly, advanced software platform that enables digital design optimization of photovoltaic (PV) systems, demonstrating its first utility by designing metal contacts on solar cells that would increase cell efficiency and improve module reliability against environmental stressors. The company says that minimizing damage to solar panels during extreme weather events with minimal interruption in power generation would benefit the public as well as the utility-scale solar farm owners.

In addition to the SBIR funding, Osazda will receive $50,000 for technical and business assistance.

“We have been working to improve PV module efficiency, reduce precious metal usage and thus manufacturing cost, and increase module lifetime through materials engineering and software-driven optimization,” Han said. “Our effort is finally bearing fruit.”

Previously, Osazda developed a composite silver paste technology called MetZillaTM to address cell-crack-induced performance degradation in solar panels with the goal of reducing operation and maintenance cost, increasing the net present value of utility-scale PV projects, and reducing the insurance premium that module manufacturers would have to pay to guarantee their module performance over 25 years.

Osazda was among 50 projects funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, with awards totaling $61 million. The projects include the development of advanced scientific instruments, advanced materials, and clean energy conversion and storage technologies that will conduct climate research and advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy.