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Project Title: Cost-Efficient and Highly Weather-Resistant Solar Panel Backsheet Produced through Continuous Co-Extrusion Processing
Funding Opportunity: Technology to Market 3
Solar Subprogram: Technology to Market
Location: Nashua, NH
Amount Awarded: $443,120
Awardee Cost Share: $143,798

This project is developing a new material to be used for photovoltaic (PV) module backsheets that is lower in cost than traditional materials used in the field today. Backsheets are critical components in providing insulation and protection to modules from environmental factors like moisture and ultraviolet light. This new material will provide superior protection, reducing panel replacement costs and increasing expected service-lifetimes to more than 30 years.

Approach

The research team is initiating low-volume, lab-scale co-extrusion experimentation to research and develop the proper structures and processing methods for prototype backsheet construction. Once evaluated at the laboratory-scale, full-scale sized backsheets will be produced, demonstrating the scalability of the technology to larger volumes. A series of reliability and longer-term environmental exposure testing will validate the performance of the novel backsheet technology against existing backsheet materials. 

Innovation

This project will enable more effective solar module backsheets by using an environmentally-friendly material that is lower-cost and resistant to hydrolytic degradation, which is the cause of many backsheet failures in the field today. The thermoplastic nature of the backsheet allows for the ability to recycle scrap material back into the manufacturing stream. The testing data collected by this project will provide the solar manufacturing community with a new option for optimal performance.