Modeling of the Effectiveness of Novel Edge Seal Designs for Fast, Low-Cap-Ex Manufacturing

Michael Kempe, Alliston Watts, Tushar Shimpi, Samuel Ellis, Kurt Barth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the manufacturing of photovoltaic (PV) modules, the lamination process can take up to 20 min to complete. In this work, new lamination processes are being developed, and have been prototyped, which hope to be able to cut this time down to as little as 30 s. This could provide significant savings in the cost of lamination equipment, floor space, and energy. PV modules are expected to have a lifespan exceeding 20 to 30 years. For moisture-sensitive PV technologies, the edge seal between the two layers of glass can be the weakest point of its reliability. There is an inherent challenge when evaluating edge seal materials due to their low permeation rates. As part of Colorado State University's Photovoltaic Research and Development 2, work at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed models to evaluate edge seal configurations in glass-glass PV modules. Here, this new manufacturing process is evaluated for long-term moisture durability. Different edge seal design options within glass–glass PV modules are explored. Most of these designs are targeting a superstrate on glass configuration, e.g CdTe, but some designs could be used on conventional crystalline Si cells. Using COMSOL finite element simulation software, we investigated the edge seal and interlayer design configurations containing silicone perimeter edge adhesive, desiccated polyisobutylene-based edge seal, air, and polyolefin while integrating climate conditions equivalent to a hot and humid environment such as Miami, Florida. We found optimized configurations that will allow the module to prevent moisture ingress over 50 years minimizing the amount of time and material used while utilizing polymers that are easily dispensed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2314-2329
Number of pages16
JournalEnergy Science and Engineering
Volume11
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC and Colorado State University. Energy Science & Engineering published by Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-83131

Keywords

  • desiccant
  • diffusion
  • edge seal
  • lamination
  • moisture
  • packaging

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