One of New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Innovation Fund business investments, Osazda Energy LLC, has spent the last year making exciting progress including expanding their team, enhancing their product, and participating in Arrowhead Center’s business accelerator EnergySprint.
Sang M. Han of Osazda Energy said 2020 showed the team that climate events will continue to have a huge impact on the lifespans of solar panels. The company’s efforts to strengthen the composite material that meshes carbon nanotubes with silver – used to conduct electricity in solar cells – will increase lifespan viability for solar panels and ultimately increase the return on investment in solar energy.
“Climate-related disasters like hailstorms and hurricanes cause extreme damage and cost millions of dollars to solar farms,” Han said. “Imagine a 90-mph fastpitch hitting the modules, not just once, but hundreds of times during a hailstorm.”
Han said Osazda is making metal contacts – what collects the energy from the panel – strong yet elastic so when cells crack because of the environmental stressors, whether during manufacturing, transportation, installation and operation, there isn’t a loss of wattage from the solar panels.
“The longer the lifetime of the solar panels, the better the revenue curve for the field owners,” Han said. “Revenue gradually drops because panels produce less and less electricity as they degrade over time, whereas their operating costs, maintenance and operating costs continue to rise over time because of things breaking down. We want that lifespan to be 50 years not only so that field owners will continue to make a profit, and consumers see the lower electricity costs, but that financiers who make green technology investments will see the increased value of investing in big utility-scale solar farms.”
He said the team has also expanded with April Jeffries, director of business development, chemist Brian Rummel and Nicolas Dowdy, chemical engineering intern.
“April has a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering, with expertise in photovoltaic reliability and in developing and commercializing novel metallization materials. She has been leading customer discovery, strategic partner outreach and our to-market strategy, including EnergySprint,” Han said. “Brian is continuously improving Osazda’s composite silver paste formulations, and Nicolas, a University of New Mexico student, is currently pursuing his bachelor’s in chemical engineering with a focus on materials processing and experience in chemical functionalization and mechanical stress testing and analysis.”
Han’s ambitions for Osazda Energy include a future pilot-scale manufacturing floor in New Mexico, perhaps within the next year or two.
“The solar industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and Osazda is not only well positioned to capitalize on the momentum, and their proprietary technology is uniquely poised for monetization,” said Beto Pallares, AIF’s fund manager. “AIF’s success is measured by risk adjusted returns derived from backing New Mexico-based businesses with strong global growth prospects.”
AIF has commitments for a total investment of $800,000 from New Mexico’s Catalyst Fund, a $20 million “fund of funds” to support New Mexico companies, and $500,000 from the NMSU Foundation, as well as a $300,000 grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program and other private investors.
AIF stands at $2 million in commitments and is looking for companies with entrepreneurs fully committed to growing and scaling their company and who are seeking between $25,000 and $200,000 in investment toward their total seed round fundraising target.
Author: Cassie McClure – NMSU
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