Project Name: Advanced Module Architecture for Reduced Costs, High Durability and Significantly Improved Manufacturability
Funding Opportunity: PVRD2
SETO Subprogram: Photovoltaics
Location: Fort Collins, CO
SETO Award Amount: $1,015,000
Awardee Cost Share: $138,500
Principal Investigator: Kurt Barth

This project is investigating new encapsulant materials and edge sealing methods that have the potential to provide enhanced durability and reliability for thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules. The proposed method also offers the potential for higher manufacturing speed at reduced cost. Key areas of investigation include obtaining a complete understanding of layer formation during the encapsulation process as well as the evolution of material properties, interfaces, and module behavior over time during accelerated testing.

Approach

The research team is working to demonstrate a new module architecture using silicone edge seals and an interlayer polymer that reduces manufacturing costs, significantly streamlines manufacturing processes, and improves module reliability. A prototype manufacturing process to create this new module architecture will be demonstrated with a significantly improved process cycle time for the lamination step. Samples will be fabricated, strenuously stressed, and characterized to quantify the cost benefits, hardware capacities, and lifetimes of the new architecture.

Innovation

This project will create a new module architecture and lamination procedure to significantly reduce manufacturing costs of thin film PV modules while meeting reliability standards. Through rigorous testing, the resulting technology is capable of being adopted by a PV manufacturer to finalize commercial development. This work will help to create a levelized cost of electricity of approximately $0.03 per kilowatt-hour.