Round 4 Set! Demo Day

The American-Made Solar Prize Round 4 semifinalist teams have been working diligently over the past several months preparing their technologies for their first event: Set! Demo Day. Since learning of their status as Round 4 semifinalists in December 2020, these 20 teams have been developing proofs-of-concept, performing rigorous customer discovery processes, and cultivating a network of mentors and partners to help advance their technologies.

Now, these innovators will present their products in the hopes of becoming a Round 4 finalist.

A female researcher works on hardware in a laboratory while a male researcher observes.

The Solar Prize team invites friends, family, peers, industry experts, and anyone interested in solar innovation to hear the semifinalists pitch their technologies in a live virtual setting and find out who moves on to the Go! Contest as a finalist. Events include:

  • Solar Prize Round 4 Set! Pitch Showcase, Friday, March 26, 1-5 p.m. ET: Teams present live pitches of their innovations to a panel of investors and a public audience in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University’s Energy Week 2021, followed by a networking event.
  • Set! Demo Day Q&A Session, Thursday, April 8: Teams participate in a private Q&A session with a panel of expert reviewers.
  • Set! Demo Day Finalist Announcement, Friday, April 9, 2 p.m. ET: A live virtual event featuring U.S. Department of Energy leadership, guest speakers, and the announcement of finalist teams.

Tune in on April 9 to hear Energy Department leadership announce the 10 Round 4 finalists, each earning $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers, and moving on to the Go! Contest.

You won’t want to miss this exciting event!


Team Profiles and Video Pitches

Details on the Round 4 semifinalist teams and their technologies can be found below. View each team's video pitch, listed in alphabetical order. Contact details for each team is also available for those who are interested in reaching out for more information.

Pitch: Aerogel Insulated Solar Collector for Process Heat
Team: AeroShield Materials/Solar Designs
Location: Boston, MA
Contact: Kyle Wilke of Aeroshield
Project Summary: This team is developing a flat-plate solar-thermal energy collector system that operates at more than 150 degrees Celsius with efficiencies greater than 60%. Transparent aerogel insulation enables this performance, minimizes heat loss, allows for simpler receiver design, and reduces cost.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Artificial Intelligence Enabled Battery-Less Solar Hybrid Inverter
Team: NAVIA
Location: San Jose, CA
Contact: Babu Jain of NAVIA
Project Summary: This inverter seamlessly switches between grid-following mode and grid-forming mode in the event of a power interruption, allowing it to establish a temporary microgrid that keeps power flowing from on-site solar without needing on-site batteries.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Boosting Energy Yield from Dusty Solar Panel
Team: Superclean Glass
Location: Stony Brook, NY
Contact: Dr. Alexander Orlov of Superclean Glass
Project Summary: This team’s self-cleaning technology uses an electro-dynamic shield to repel dust particles from solar panels. Creating a strong electric field can save up to 98% of PV energy loss caused by dust.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Harnessing the Sun Using MV SiC Power Devices
Team: NoMIS Power Group
Location: Newtonville, NY
Contact: Adam Morgan of NoMIS Power Group
Project Summary: This team is developing a new, high-power (greater than 6.5 kilovolts), SiC semiconductor device that will enable the direct connection of PV to the medium-voltage grid through solid-state transformers. This will reduce the cost of interconnecting solar installations to the grid and expand U.S. leadership in advanced power electronics manufacturing.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Integrated Solar Power and Insulated Wall System
Team: SolaBlock
Location: Easthampton, MA
Contact: Jason Laverty of SolaBlock
Project Summary: This team’s SolaBlock wall system embeds a PV panel in a cinderblock foe solar-integrated building solutions. The system also enables the PV module to operate at a cooler temperature, intended for greater efficiency and durability relative to conventional modules.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Lightfoot - Solar Powered Vehicles
Team: Lightfoot
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact: Saul Griffith of Lightfoot
Project Summary: This team’s lightweight, self-charging, solar-powered vehicle has 40–50 miles of range and speeds of 20¬–35 miles per hour. A built-in solar panel charges the vehicle, eliminating collection and charging challenges associated with scooters, e-bikes, and other popular micro-mobility solutions.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: MORE POWER LESS DIRT
Team: Pellucere Oregon State
Location: Corvallis, OR
Contact: Chih-Hunh Chang of Pellucere Oregon State
Project Summary: This team’s silica shield’s nanostructure prevents the buildup of dirt and other particulates on solar panels to increase energy yield. By developing a robotic surface treatment and coating application process, the team can provide the shield as a retrofit solution.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: NanoSpray: Low Cost solutions for Back Contacts
Team: NanoSpray
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact: Ed Sartor of NanoSpray
Project Summary: This team is developing a highly conductive, spray-coated back contact for cadmium telluride solar panels, to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Next-Gen Solar Roofing Product Collaboration
Team: SunTegra and CertainTeed "Next-Generation" Solar Roofing Product
Location: Highland, NY
Contact: Oliver Koehler of SunTegra
Project Summary: SunTegra and CertainTeed are partnering to develop a next-generation solar roofing product that will improve aesthetics, lower cost, and simplify installation and maintenance of solar shingles.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: PV Cost-Effective Eco-Friendly Recycling SPWR
Team: Solar Panel Waste Recycling (SPWR)
Location: Austin, TX
Contact: David Pham of SPWR
Project Summary: This team’s solar panel waste-recycling program aims to maximize the recovery of pure metals from end-of-life solar panels, using an electrochemical-hydrothermal recycling method instead of high temperatures and burning waste gases.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Rocking Solar Tracker
Team: Rocking Solar
Location: Mason, OH
Contact: Darin Palmer of Rocking Solar
Project Summary: This tracker system is designed to reduce a PV system’s weight and number of required roof penetrations, so that more commercial and industrial rooftops can host a PV system. This system tracks the sun using a rocking motion, like a rocking chair, eliminating bearings and hinges from the support frame that require roof penetrations.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Roofing for the Sol
Team: the r&d lab
Location: Petaluma, CA
Contact: Amy Atchley of the r&d lab
Project Summary: This team is developing a roof designed for solar in order to scale rooftop solar massively by offering an affordable, durable, and aesthetically pleasing roof preferred by installers and owners.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Room Temperature Metal Coating for CSP Mirror
Team: Hawai’i Innovation
Location: Honolulu, HI
Contact: Dr. Arif Rahman of Hawai’i Innovation
Project Summary: This team’s room-temperature liquid metal alloy makes highly reflective films targeted for use in CSP parabolic troughs for industrial heat applications. Their process uses spray coating, which is easier and less expensive than existing methods for making mirrors.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Energy for All
Team: Energy for All
Location: Columbia, MD
Contact: Duncan Woodbury of Energy for All
Project Summary: This cell-level battery management and reconditioning device decreases battery degradation and extends the life of new and recycled batteries by up to 30%. This improves the lifetime, performance, and cost of PV storage systems and enables repurposing of used batteries.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Self Cleaning Solar Power
Team: Sol Clarity
Location: Boston, MA
Contact: Annie Bernard of Sol Clarity
Project Summary: This team is developing an electro-dynamic shield layer that can be placed on the glass of solar panels to prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt. This is particularly impactful in dry desert regions, where soiling can greatly reduce solar energy production.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Solar Air Wall
Team: D&D Manufacturing LLC
Location: Merritt Island, FL
Contact: Dale Polk of D&D Manufacturing LLC
Project Summary: This team is developing a low-cost, passive solar air heater made from plastic and post-consumer resins instead of metal. The Solar AirWall can convert sunlight to heat at over 60% efficiency, even in low light and windy conditions.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Solar Panel with Heatsink
Team: Cool Tech Solar
Location: North Oaks, MN
Contact: Kaizhong Gao of Cool Tech Solar
Project Summary: This team is creating a solar panel with a nano-textured heatsink. The heatsink’s structure increases the surface area of the back of the solar panel, helping the panel dissipate heat and lowering its peak operating temperature. The lower temperature may make the solar panel last longer.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Stable and Scalable Perovskite Solar Cells
Team: Purdue Perovskite Solar Team
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Contact: Letian Dou of Purdue Perovskite Solar Team
Project Summary: This team, based at Purdue University, is improving the stability of perovskite materials. Addressing the chemical stability of perovskites will greatly accelerate the commercialization of perovskite PV technology.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: The Mighty Power System™
Team: New Age Solar®
Location: Monmouth County, NJ
Contact: Jerry Sorgento of New Age Solar®
Project Summary: This team is developing a plug-and-play system comprised of a portable solar array and a battery backup unit. The Mighty Power System is designed to be assembled into large power-generating arrays that can be quickly broken down and redeployed in emergencies to provide instant power.
Pitch Video:
Pitch: Urban Energy Solar Canopy
Team: Urban Energy
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact: Russell Wilcox of Urban Energy
Project Summary: This team has developed a rooftop solar-canopy racking system that avoids roof penetrations and maximizes the energy yield benefits by using bifacial modules. This application is targeted for multi-family buildings, which often do not have the roof space to accommodate existing solar solutions.
Pitch Video:

Find out which 10 teams will become finalists, earning $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers, and advancing to the final phase of competition.


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