MATERIALS: Acrylic Films for Flexible Solar Modules

 WEB EXCLUSIVE: A new type of acrylic-based solar barrier film for production of flexible, thin-film solar modules has been developed by Evonik Degussa in Germany.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: A new type of acrylic-based solar barrier film for production of flexible, thin-film solar modules has been developed by Evonik Degussa in Germany. Using the barrier film as the front cover makes it possible to produce the thin-film solar modules cost-effectively in a roll-to-roll process. Replacing the glass plates used in the past also makes the modules two-thirds lighter. According to Evonik, there has up to now been no suitable film that protects the thin-film solar cells from long-term environmental damage. Evonik now proposes a multilayer structure that has a top layer of PMMA acrylic for weather resistance, followed by two inorganic barrier layers for moisture resistance, and then an EVA or other adhesive layer to bond to the photovoltaic (PV) module. Evonik is a major acrylic producer and is the parent of Evonik Cyro LLC in Parsippany, N.J. Lightweight, film-based PV modules could have numerous applications, such as on vehicle roofs and laptops.

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Shining Opportunities In Solar Films

Photovoltaic markets are growing explosively, and so are opportunities for specialty film producers. Solar cell and module production, which was forecasted to grow at 50% a year for the next few years before the recession hit, is now expecting slightly more healthy 30% annual growth, according to DuPont, a major supplier of photovoltaic film materials. Solar cell and module manufacturers are expanding, and large numbers of new companies are entering the field.