21st March 2022

UbiQD to develop new type of greenhouse roof with Canadian company

UbiQD photoA UbiQD engineer and a "quantum-dot" glass panel Los Alamos advanced-materials startup UbiQD plans to invent a new type of greenhouse roof with Heliene Inc., a solar panel manufacturer in Ontario, Canada. The partnership aims to combine Heliene's solar manufacturing capabilities with UbiQD's "quantum dot" technology — meant, in part, to promote plant photosynthesis by shifting long-wavelength light to short-wavelength light. UbiQD already rolled out greenhouse film with quantum dots, but the new jointly-developed product would combine the best of both worlds by fostering crop production and producing electricity at the same time. "It's a greenhouse roof," UbiQD CEO Hunter McDaniel told Albuquerque Business First. "What we're proposing here is a new, a different kind of glass panel that has a solar cell embedded in it, a portion of it. … And then, the glass is tinted with our 'quantum dots,' more or less." The product is set to be developed within the next two years under the current schedule. "As energy costs continue to rise, the controlled environment agriculture industry will have to utilize energy sources more efficiently," according to a statement from Heliene CEO Martin Pochtaruk that was provided by UbiQD. "Greenhouses and photovoltaics generate hundreds of billions of dollars of value from sunlight, and our plan is that with our agrivoltaic modules, the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts." "Agrivoltaics" is an emerging industry wherein food and solar energy are produced simultaneously. In essence, according to Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, having solar panels placed on land where crops are grown means you can harness the power of the sun twice — once for plant growth and once for energy production. "We're in a subset of agrivoltaics, which is greenhouse roofs," McDaniel said. With a huge solar module manufacturing presence in the U.S., Heliene offers several types of solar modules, or panels. Heliene has factories in Canada; Mountain Iron, Minnesota; and Riviera Beach, Florida. The announcement also comes as UbiQD experiences rapid growth. McDaniel said "we more than doubled our revenue last year" with a total $2.5 million that included sales, partnerships and grants. The startup, founded in 2014, spun off from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Today, UbiQD employs about 26 people full time with an office in Los Alamos. Read the original article here.