The series of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) between NREL and 3M establish joint investigations in three key areas of innovation: solar thin-film photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP) and biofuels.

The CRADAs range from jointly identifying and developing critical aspects of renewable energy technology to accelerated testing of 3M designs and scaling-up successful prototype technologies for commercial production. The agreements last for at least one year.

Areas of renewable energy investigation and testing include:

  • Moisture barrier films and flexible packaging for CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) thin-film solar cells to increase module performance and reduce manufacturing costs;
  • Reflective coatings to protect and enhance the performance of lower-cost mirrors used in concentrating solar power; and
  • Alternatives to ethanol biofuel distillation that will reduce energy and water use, and increase throughput in existing corn ethanol and future cellulosic ethanol production plants