Failure Analysis of a New Polyamide-Based Fluoropolymer-Free Backsheet After Combined-Accelerated Stress Testing

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The viability of novel coextruded, fluoropolymer-free backsheets for photovoltaic (PV) modules has been questioned as a result of a large number of early-life backsheet failures in PV installations containing one of the earliest co-extruded polyamide (PA)-based backsheet to reach the market, 'AAA.' New PV reliability testing protocols have been recently developed and applied to backsheets to reproduce failures observed in the field and evaluate the durability of novel backsheet materials and designs prior to commercialization. A new co-extruded PA-based backsheet was tested using combined-accelerated stress testing (C-AST) and demonstrated a greater lifetime than AAA, and some other fluoropolymer-based backsheets such as polyvinylidene fluoride. The improved PA-based backsheet also eventually failed by through-thickness cracking. Using surface and bulk material characterization techniques, we performed a comprehensive study of material properties before and after the stress testing. Aging of the backsheet resulted in an increase of surface roughness by erosion of the outer PA layer. However the failure is more likely related to an increase in crystallinity of the polyolefin core layer reducing the backsheet tearing energy. The analysis can ultimately inform on the specific weaknesses of the materials so that the manufacturer can improve the backsheet design to extend its lifetime.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number9491088
Pages (from-to)1197-1205
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-79182


  • Backsheet
  • combined-accelerated stress testing (C-AST)
  • durability
  • DuraMAT
  • polyamide (PA)


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