For years, the PV industry and researchers have worked intensively in search of different types of efficient and cost-effective materials to manufacture solar PV modules and specific ways of keeping them adequately bonded to withstand several years of outdoor exposure. The modules are made to minimize the amount of moisture that can come in contact with the solar cells and their contacts while keeping manufacturing costs down.
The current standard c-Si module is bonded using two layers of EVA to bond the layers together. Because of that, recycling solar modules is a relatively complex task, since these materials need to be separated. Once the materials/layers of a solar module can be separated, metals such as lead, copper, gallium, cadmium, aluminum and silicon can be recovered and reused in new products.
Despite the recyclability of the modules, the process in which materials are separated can be tedious and requires advanced machinery. Here are the main steps involved in successfully recycling a silicon module: