At current, the solar industry uses silicone predominantly for PV module encapsulation. EVA has been the lamination material of choice for decades, but newer materials promise better light transmission over time. Could silicone serve as an EVA substitute in lamination? To address this question, a team of Fraunhofer CSE researchers teamed up with Fortune 500 company Dow Corning.
Could silicone serve as an EVA substitute in lamination? To address this question, a team of Fraunhofer CSE researchers teamed up with Dow Corning, the world leader in silicone applications in medical engineering, cosmetics, automobiles, paper conversion and electronics.
CSE experts covered solar PV cells with a layer of liquid silicone, then tested them in a climate chamber at low temperatures under cyclic mechanical loading conditions to simulate cold, windy conditions. They used electroluminescence to search for micro-fractures caused by the temperature and mechanical stresses. The end result: compared to conventional solar modules, the silicone-covered PV module was more likely to stand up the damage caused by extreme wind and cold.
Fraunhofer CSE's research demonstrated that silicone protects components inside the module and is able to stand up to severe temperature fluctuations. This may enable modules that incorporate thinnner solar cells. The results of the lamination tests were presented at the 26th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference (EUPVSEC).