Toyota’s Prius that little but greener thanks to Kyocera Corporation’s solar modules

Kyocera Corporation has announced that the world’s best known eco-car will be fitted with Kyocera solar modules to power its ventilation system, an optional feature for the hybrid car model introduced in Japan by Toyota Motor Corporation on May 18.

The system ventilates the air inside the car while it is parked during the daytime by using electricity generated by a solar module on the roof. This feature automatically moderates temperature rise inside of the vehicle even during hot seasons.

For this product, Kyocera has implemented rigorous quality control evaluations to confirm heat resistance, vibration resistance, shock resistance and other aspects, in order to ensure that solar modules meet the standards required for onboard components used in the new Prius. It has also constructed a specific production line for the Pruis solar modules with specialised manufacturing engineers to ensure strict manufacturing control.

High quality derived from the fully integrated production process

In 1982, Kyocera successfully began mass production of multicrystalline silicon solar cells using the casting method, which has now become the mainstream method used in solar power generating systems today. Since then, Kyocera has carried out all production processes in-house, from procurement of raw materials to silicon casting, cutting, wafer substrate production, cell production, and solar module assembly. The integrated production process enables Kyocera to make improvements in each step of the production process including the fusing and casting of raw materials, thus making it possible to enhance overall quality by implementing quality improvement, performance enhancement and cost reduction.

A high level of aesthetic quality was also required of the design of the solar modules to be mounted on the roof of the new Prius model. Since 2002, Kyocera has offered high-performance solar cells to the global market that utilse a unique Reactive Ion Etching (RIE) technology. RIE is a technology used to create microscopic ridges on the surface of the cell using plasma and reactive gases. The subtle ridges allow the solar cells to better absorb the sunlight reflected on the surface, therefore enhancing output and conversion efficiency. At the same time, the solar cells have a uniform dark navy blue colour to ensure they have a stylish appearance.

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