Solar Recycling

TYPES OF SOLAR MODULES

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.

IS SOLAR RECYCLING EASY?

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.

SOLAR RECYCLING PROCESS

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:

  1. Removing the aluminum frame (100% reusable)
  2. Separating the glass along a conveyor belt (95% reusable)
  3. Thermal processing at 500 degrees Celsius
  4. This allows for the evaporation of small plastic components and allows the cells to be easier separated.
  5. Etching away silicon wafers and smelting them into reusable slabs (85% reusable)

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