Ex­per­i­men­tal En­er­gy Pro­duc­tion Sys­tems


DysCrete is an in­no­va­tive ap­proach to the gen­er­a­tion of en­er­gy, based on the same un­der­ly­ing prin­ci­ples as dye-sen­si­tized so­lar cells (DYSC), from which it gains its name. Like other cells based on DYSC tech­nol­o­gy, DysCrete us­es or­gan­ic dyes to ab­sorb light and pro­duce elec­tric­i­ty through elec­tro­chem­i­cal re­ac­tions. Anal­y­sis of this still nov­el pro­cess re­veals a high de­gree of com­pat­i­bil­i­ty be­tween DYSC tech­nol­o­gy and the chem­istry and physics of con­crete, in­clud­ing its ma­te­rial log­ic and pro­duc­tion meth­ods. DYSC cells are mod­eled on na­ture. Much like chloro­phyll-bear­ing plants, they ab­sorb light not with semi­con­duc­tor ma­te­rials, but with or­gan­ic dyes held in sus­pen­sion. In this sense, the tech­nol­o­gy is an adap­ta­tion of the pho­to­syn­thet­ic pro­cess.


The DysCrete pro­ject be­gan with the idea of a con­crete block that would gen­er­ate elec­tric­i­ty when fruit juice was poured over it. Ini­tial at­tempts proved that ce­ment could serve as the ba­sis for a tar­get­ed syn­th­e­sis of pho­tore­ac­tive par­ti­cles and build­ing ma­te­rials. Promis­ing new tech­nolo­gies and al­ter­na­tive pro­cess­es such as the DYSC cell call for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment through di­rect ap­pli­ca­tion. The DYSC cell is one of the most ef­fi­cient new so­lar-cell tech­nolo­gies, but most re­search­ers have fo­cused on the con­sid­er­able po­ten­tial of glass-based trans­lu­cent mo­d­ules. Un­til now, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of com­bin­ing DYSC cells with con­struc­tion ma­te­rials such as con­crete has been over­looked. The main chal­lenge is to op­ti­mize the cell’s long-term sta­bil­i­ty. DysCrete us­es a spray-coat­ing method that can be per­formed in si­tu. The con­ven­tio­n­al en­cap­su­la­tion pro­cess, in which the fail­ure of a sin­gle com­po­nent ren­ders the en­tire cell use­less, is re­placed by a lay­er group­ing sys­tem with a re­ne­w­able sand­wich struc­ture that of­fers ex­cep­tio­n­al ver­satil­i­ty in cell con­struc­tion.


Tech­ni­cal­ly, the DysCrete cell is based on a sim­ple struc­ture of func­tio­n­al lay­ers. Th­ese com­bine to form a re­dox re­ac­tion coat­ing that gen­er­ates en­er­gy through an elec­tro­chem­i­cal pro­cess when ex­posed to light. This coat­ing can be cre­at­ed on con­crete sur­faces by sys­te­m­at­i­cal­ly mod­i­fy­ing their phys­i­cal and chem­i­cal struc­ture while ap­p­ly­ing and in­te­grat­ing spe­cif­ic sub­s­tances. The elec­tric­i­ty-gen­er­at­ing ma­te­rial is refined through a pro­cess of syn­th­e­sis and lay­er­ing, a com­bi­na­tion of sin­ter­ing and spray de­po­si­tion that can eas­i­ly be in­te­grat­ed in­to the pro­duc­tion of pre­fab­ri­cat­ed el­e­ments. By ad­just­ing the dye and elec­tro­lyte com­po­nents, the lay­er sys­tem can be tuned to spe­cif­ic wave­bands of light, in­clud­ing the very edges of the vis­i­ble spec­trum. One ma­jor ad­van­tage of dye-sen­si­tized con­crete is its rel­a­tive­ly low pro­duc­tion cost, giv­ing the sys­tem great po­ten­tial as a low-cost en­er­gy source.


DysCrete com­bines the ad­van­tages of tech­no­log­i­cal pho­to­syn­th­e­sis and con­crete. The ba­sis of the sys­tem is con­crete, with its many pos­i­tive qual­i­ties as a struc­tu­ral prod­uct (fire re­sis­tance, high strength and dura­bil­i­ty, va­ri­e­ty of con­struc­tion meth­ods). The en­er­gy-gen­er­at­ing func­tion is pro­duced with free­ly avai­l­able com­po­nents, with no ad­di­tio­n­al tox­ic emis­sions. The in­no­va­tive sys­tem of ma­te­rials is re­ne­w­able, large­ly re­cy­clable and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly. Be­cause it can make use of the en­er­gy in dif­fuse light, its struc­tu­ral ap­pli­ca­tions are vir­tu­al­ly un­limit­ed com­pared to con­ven­tio­n­al pho­to­vol­ta­ic sys­tems, open­ing up a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties in the field of struc­tu­ral­ly in­te­grat­ed pho­to­vol­taics. DysCrete is ide­al­ly suit­ed for man­u­fac­tur­ing pre­fab­ri­cat­ed con­crete el­e­ments for build­ing con­struc­tion, for new types of build­ing fa­cades, and for in­door and out­door wall and floor sys­tems.



research & project funding

  • Research Initiative Future Building
  • Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development
  • Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

cooperation partners

team members