MATERIALS: ECTFE Film Resins for Photovoltaic Modules

Two new ECTFE resins mark Kraton's entry into front-sheet applications for photovoltaic modules, expanding the company's reach in this market.

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Solvay Specialty Polymers, Alpharetta, Georgia, has developed two new film grades of Halar ethylene chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE) that are specifically designed for front-sheet applications for photovoltaic (PV) modules. The new fluoropolymers mark the company’s entrance into PV front-sheet applications and complement its extensive material offering for PV modules which includes Solef PVDF and Halar ECTFE for back sheets and Cogegum XLPO HFFR for cables.

The first grade, Halar PV ECTFE, is a semi-crystalline, melt-processable fluoropolymer that can be extruded into a highly-transparent film (over 90% light transmission). It boasts excellent water-vapor barrier (< 1 g/m(2)/day) in a wide range of temperatures and is said to offer strong chemical resistance, exceptional fire resistance, and long-term weatherability, making it suitable for 20-plus years of direct exposure to sunlight. Solvay views it as a highly-viable alternative to competing materials such as glass (rigid, heavy, and breakable) and other fluorinated polymers, offering greater fire resistance, higher tensile modulus, and lower density than its direct competitors.

The second is Halar UV blocking technology, said to be the only one of its kind in this industry. The material offers the same properties as Halar PV but also employs patented technology to deliver long-lasting UV blocking performance to meet the solar industry’s 25-year performance life for PV modules.

Solvay’s first partner in developing PV front-sheet technology is Amcor Flexibles, Madison, Connecticut. It is launching films based on the new Halar ECTFE technology for this market, currently available up to 1.5 meters wide and 50 microns thick.