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Brightening Solar Encapsulant Performance

SpecialChem / Andy Extance – Jun 8, 2011

In 1990, the solar power industry was hit by concerns about its future due to the "EVA browning crisis". Poly(ethylene-vinyl acetate) (EVA) encapsulants used to protect photovoltaic (PV) cells were degrading, causing power output to deteriorate. Many EVA products have been launched since tackle this issue, keeping this material the dominant solar encapsulant today. Yet with some major companies researching encapsulants based on different polymers, how long will this remain true? Solar encapsulants provide structural support, electrical and physical isolation, and thermal conduction for solar cells and the components of the circuits that extract the electricity they generate. They also provide continuous optical passage for light from the transparent superstrate to the solar cells and physically protect the PV module from the environment. EVA is popular because it provides good optical transmission for light of frequencies between 380 nm and 1200 nm. However, conventional EVA material softens to a viscous melt above 70°C.

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