Next-Generation Solar Module Innovation: Revolutionizing Crystalline Silicon Panels

At a Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a novel design and manufacturing process for crystalline silicon solar modules, significantly reducing costs, enhancing reliability, and promoting recyclability. This innovative approach eliminates the need for costly vacuum lamination, streamlining production while improving performance and sustainability. Additionally, a double edge seal system can be employed to protect sensitive PV circuit plates and is particularly beneficial for perovskite cells that are highly susceptible to moisture.

Background

The global solar cell manufacturing sector is experiencing rapid growth, yet traditional methods rely on vacuum lamination, a bottleneck that increases costs and environmental impact. The complex lamination process not only adds significant expense and time to manufacturing but also hinders recyclability, exacerbating the industry’s footprint. Our solution addresses these challenges, offering a paradigm shift in solar module design and manufacturing, with an additional focus on moisture protection for sensitive PV circuit plates.

Overview

Our new design leverages edge sealing inspired by the insulating glass industry, eliminating the need for vacuum lamination. By incorporating a silicone outer seal and poly-iso-butylene (PIB) inner seal, our modules achieve robustness, reliability, and ease of disassembly for efficient recycling. Innovative textured surfaces within the module minimize internal reflection losses, optimizing performance and output during peak electricity demand hours. Additionally, a double edge seal system with desiccant between two layers provides enhanced protection against moisture ingress, particularly beneficial for sensitive solar cells like perovskite and perovskite tandem devices. This architecture not only improves module survivability but also reduces production time, further enhancing the technology’s appeal. By revolutionizing traditional solar module design and manufacturing, our innovation presents unparalleled opportunities for solar panel manufacturers, renewable energy companies, and green technology startups to drive cost reductions, enhance performance, and promote sustainability in the solar industry, with a special focus on protecting sensitive PV circuit plates from moisture ingress.

Benefits

  • Drastically reduces CapEx by 80% for encapsulation costs, translating to up to ~$100 million in savings for a 5GW annual production facility.
  • Significantly smaller manufacturing tool footprint (~20x) compared to current encapsulation methods, minimizing space requirements and maximizing efficiency.
  • Substantial reduction in material costs (~2 cents Wp or ~$100 million in annual savings for a 5GW annual production facility), enhancing cost-effectiveness and competitiveness.
  • Rapid process cycle time for each manufacturing step (under 30 seconds), accelerating production and increasing throughput.
  • Enhanced barrier against moisture ingress, extending module lifespan up to 50 years in hot, humid climates.
  • Improved mechanical strength (~1.5x) and better tolerance to glass temper distortion, ensuring durability and reliability in diverse environments.
  • Advanced recyclability for a circular economy, offering potential for ~$100 million net present value annual in high-value material recovery for a 5GW annual manufacturing capacity.
  • Adaptability for new and emerging cell architectures such as perovskite and tandem devices, catering to evolving market demands and future-proofing investments.

Applications

  • Manufacturing for c-Si solar modules
  • Manufacturing for perovskite solar modules
  • Manufacturing for silicon/perovskite tandem solar modules
  • Solar panel recycling
Last Updated: May 2024
Opportunity

Available for Licensing
TRL: 5

IP Status

PCT Application Filed

Inventors

Ryan Ruhle
Walajabad Sampath
Larry Maple
David Durney

Reference Number
2023-060 and 2024-051
Licensing Manager

Aly Hoeher
Aly.Hoeher@colostate.edu
970-491-7100