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3S Industries AG develops new soldering technology to connect the solar cells for Solar Impulse

Engineers from all fields of discipline are working together on the first prototype of the solar airplane with which Bertrand Piccard, President and André Borschberg, CEO plan to fly night and day with no fuel and zero polluting emissions.

(PresseBox) (Lyss, ) Important know-how for the solar propulsion system is being supplied by 3S Industries AG: Solar module experts from the Swiss group of companies have developed a new, particularly high-value technology for connection of the airplane's solar cells. From that technology, a new product has already evolved for the manufacturers of solar modules.

Flying only using solar energy and with a degree of power that would be just about sufficient to illuminate a shop window is a task that can only be achieved if the limits of the knowledge that exists today are pushed back. Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, both future pilots of the airplane, believe in the realisation of this scientific and human adventure and are going new ways. "We are building a type of airplane in which everything is new, from the aerodynamics, through the structure and production methods all the way to the propulsion and flight performance", says André Borschberg. "Various research initiatives and partnerships are helping us to work out the necessary, innovative solutions", says the trained engineer, pilot and management expert Borschberg.

The Solar Impulse team's search for completely new solutions affects, among other things, optimisation of the solar panel which converts the radiation energy of the sun into electrical energy for mechanical propulsion of the airplane. For this purpose, 12,000 photovoltaic cells of mono-crystalline silicon are used, serving as energy generators and simultaneously building the surface of the wings. The highly sensitive cells and their connections to each other may not break, even under extreme pressure such as when the airplane flies through turbulence. Finding a solution for the connection of those cells has been handled by experts from 3S Swiss Solar Systems AG and Somont, both of which are member companies of the 3S Industries Group. "Together with the engineers from Solar Impulse", says Patrick Hofer-Noser, the CEO of 3S Industries AG, "we have succeeded in creating a connection technology which fulfils the most extreme demands in terms of temperature pressures, radiation energy and mechanical pressure."

Following successful tests, the people at the 3S location in Lyss have now begun with series connection of the cells for Solar Impulse. The series-orientated, manual processing of the ultra-thin solar cells takes place on a soldering table which was specially developed by Somont. That company of 3S Industries AG is specialised in soldering technology for the connection of cells and has outstanding competence in the handling of sensitive solar cells. With the newly developed soldering table, module manufacturers will be able to save costs in future. For the first time, the soldering table enables a reproduceable soldering process for the exchange of defective cells from automatic production.

3S Industries AG

3S Industries AG brings together the three key technologies in the field of solar module production, namely soldering, laminating and testing, under a single roof. In the field of laminating, 3S Swiss Solar Systems has been the world's technological market leader for years. In 2007, today's 3S Industries acquired a further key technology with Pasan SA, the leading producer of module testers. With the acquisition of Somont in 2008, the Group has continued its strategy of expansion and added in the sector of automatic string soldering the missing element in the value-creation chain of solar module production.

The three companies operate independently of each other in the market, each focused on one of the three key technologies. Furthermore, 3S Swiss Solar Systems integrates this production equipment in turnkey production lines. 3S Swiss Solar Systems is also a producer of solar modules and plans and develops building-integrated solar systems.

Contact 3S Industries AG:
Dr. Anja Knaus
Head of Corporate Communications
Schachenweg 24
CH 3250 Lyss
fon +41(0)32 391 1136 fax +41(0)32 391 1112
anja.knaus@3-s.ch