WEDNESDAY 04 JULY, 2012 |
The Fountain Of Youth For Solar Cells?
Solar panels have a very long lifespan, with some installed
in the 1980's
still cranking significant quantities of clean electricity -
but this durability comes at a financial cost.
In order for a solar panel to have a lifespan of 25 years or more, various types
of costly sealants and protective coverings are used.
To help protect the very fragile silicon solar cells within a panel, many manufacturers use
an expensive ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) coating. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems
(CSE) in the USA have been investigating alternative cheaper materials to protect solar cells.
One of those materials is silicone, a substance that is neither inorganic crystal nor organic polymer;
but related to both. Silicones, not to be confused with silicon, are inert, synthetic compounds with a variety of forms and uses.
While PV modules have been encapsulated with various silicone concoctions, the
substance hasn't been widely used for laminating the solar cells
Prototypes of silicone-laminated cells were prepared by Fraunhofer researchers
and placed in a climate chamber at low temperatures and under cyclic loads. The
cells were then tested with a light flasher and electro-luminescence-imaging for the detection of micro cracks.
A comparison with traditional solar modules showed silicone-encased photovoltaic
cells were more resistant to cyclic loading of the type panels experience in strong winds, in particular at
incredibly low temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius.
In other Fraunhofer news, the organisation has announced the official opening of OTF-1,
Fraunhofer's new photovoltaics outdoor test field in Albuquerque, New Mexico. An
extension of CSE's existing Albuquerque solar research annex, the facility
will support PV module and component manufacturers in assessing real-world performance and durability of their products,
plus allow systems integrators to gather important data on performance and lifetime expectations.
is Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization. It
incorporates than 80 research units, including 60 Fraunhofer Institutes, at different locations in Germany;
plus research centers and representative offices elsewhere in Europe, the USA, Asia and in the Middle East
Solar Panels That Just Won't Die
Panels Still Going Strong After 25 Years
Other news for Wednesday 04 July, 2012
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