Characterizing Photovoltaic Backsheet Adhesion Degradation Using the Wedge and Single Cantilever Beam Tests, Part I: Field Modules: Article No. 110669

Scott Julien, Michael Kempe, Joshua Eafanti, Joshua Morse, Yu Wang, Andrew Fairbrother, Sophie Napoli, Adam Hauser, Liang Ji, Gregory O'Brien, Xiaohong Gu, Roger French, Laura Bruckman, Kai-tak Wan, Kenneth Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus Citations


Photovoltaic backsheets are exposed to harsh outdoor weathering conditions throughout their service lives that can compromise their protective function, through adhesive debonding between their constituent layers and between the backsheet and the module. A large-scale study on adhesive degradation was conducted on 37 field-exposed modules, that spanned 19 different module manufacturers, that were deployed among six Köppen–Geiger climatic zones, and that were fielded between 0 and 28 years. Six outer layer polymer classes were identified among the backsheets: polyamide (PA), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl fluoride (PVF), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), fluoroethylene vinyl ether copolymer (FEVE), and tetrafluoroethylene hexafluoropropylene vinylidene fluoride copolymer (THV). Two adhesion tests were used to measure the adhesive strength: the wedge test and the width-tapered single-cantilever beam (SCB) test. Adhesion energies were compared across exposure time and Köppen–Geiger climatic zone. Many of the PET-, PVF-, and PVDF-based backsheets experienced degradation of the adhesive layer between the backsheet outer and core layers. A consistent trend of decreasing adhesion energy with exposure time was observed in five out of the six backsheet types. Trends among adhesion energy and climatic zone, while expected, were not observed, possibly due to broad ranges in temperature, humidity, and precipitation defining Köppen–Geiger climatic zones. The cantilever beam measurements produced an upper cutoff of approximately 100 J/m2, above which no modules exhibited field delamination. The results are part of a two-part study quantifying adhesion in both field-weathered and indoor-exposed PV backsheets.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-77476


  • adhesion
  • backsheet
  • degradation
  • delamination
  • field module
  • photovoltaic


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