Conn Center Staff

Thad Druffel.jpg
Thad Druffel, PhD, PE
Theme Leader
Solar Manufacturing R&D
Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research
Endowed Chair in Renewable Energy Research

Thad Druffel, PhD, PE is the Theme Leader for Solar Manufacturing R&D focused on scalable manufacturing of photovoltaics and other renewable energy production and storage solutions. He was appointed as Endowed Chair in Renewable Energy Research in 2020.


Dr. Druffel received his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville in 2009 and was awarded the Guy Stevenson Award for excellence in graduate studies. He holds an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University (2000) and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (1990). He is a registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky (Lic. 22550). His award-winning experience in research and development targets the intersection of mechanical and chemical engineering. He has led impactful projects ranging from solar and water facilities in Africa to corporate research and development of cutting-edge technologies in energy, appliances, and optical films.


Thad’s current research links his expertise in nanomaterial synthesis with scale-up of equipment and processes for mass production of low-cost, flexible solar cells using established printing techniques. His goal is to create new market opportunities in the renewable energy space for a transforming printing industry in the digital age. His patented research appears in refereed journals, has been licensed from the university, and is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the State of Kentucky and industry from large corporations as well as startups.


He is the founder of Bert Thin Films, LLC, which is commercializing a front side metallization paste for the solar industry based on research originating from his work at Conn Center. His interest and entrepreneurialism at the global water/energy nexus continue through volunteer efforts with WaterStep, a non-profit dedicated to sustainable solutions for clean water, health and hygiene, and sanitation in developing countries.

Ernst Hall, Room 302
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