Solar Energy Harvesting Shingles at the University of Delaware


Exploded view of final solar shingle design
Exploded view of final solar shingle design

Bob Opila, QESST faculty from the University of Delaware, partnered with Faculty Advisor, Liyun Wang of the Mechanical engineering department, leading five mechanical engineering seniors (Team 109) in designing solar energy harvesting shingles. Andrew Koster, Colleen Gegeckas, Kangning Guo, Kenneth Eland and Jessica Booth chose the solar shingles over 20 other projects for their senior design course.


Impact and Benefits:

  • Team 109 designed a roofing shingle that incorporates solar cell technology compatible with traditional shingles in terms of manufacturing, installation, tooling, and handling. For the latest designs on roofs and gutters, click here
  • The team created their solar shingle prototype with a 2 X 4 solar cell array (polycrystalline solar cells) to use for customer discovery and in approaching venture capitalists.
  • The finalized concept was a solar shingle design of layered Phenol Formaldehyde (PF) shingle housing for support, an aluminum fin for heat transfer, and tedlar backing for weatherproofing. If you read full article, you can get more information on roofing services.


Explanation and Background:

The 109 team with Dr. Opila at the final presentation
The 109 team with Dr. Opila at the final presentation

The solar energy harvesting shingles project was co-sponsored by Bob Opila and QESST. Dr. Opila and QESST scholars Abhishek Iyer and Jimmy Hack took part in the NSF I-Corps Sites program with the HORN Program in Entrepreneurship at UD and discovered that there is a lot of potential for building-integrated photovoltaics. From their customer discovery process, they realized aesthetically pleasing solar panels in the form of solar shingles could play a significant role in the residential solar market. The current focus is on continuing to understand the market for solar shingles. For better exteriors one can follow the link here to get experts to help.

The project with the senior design students aimed at creating a product would not only power residences like solar panels do, but also protect the home like traditional shingles. The shingle should be durable in accordance with roofing standards. Working with Dr. Opila, Team 109 conducted engineering analysis, calculated static loading, thermal simulation, and heat transfer for the purpose of reliability. Extensive testing resulted in the shingles passing most key metrics. The team plans to conduct further ventilation testing for outdoor use during summer and refine the connection between the shingle units. The final product is expected to encourage integration of renewable energy into society.