Manufacture and installation of photovoltaic systems are still relatively expensive. Accordingly, it is important to maximize the life of the generator – the longer they can remain on the roof, the better the outcome will be. Currently, the fragile silicon wafers that make up the modules during production usually laminated with a protective layer of ethylene vinyl acetate. This coating is against wind and weather in the long run, however, not robust enough and can (as shown by long-term tests) get cracking with time. The result: The modules generate over time more or less power must be equal at worst completely replaced.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) in Cambridge, in cooperation with the chemical manufacturer Dow Corning Corporation, claimed that after a few experiments, silicon appears as a kind of anti-aging agent for photovoltaic systems. It is intended as a new sealant layer solar cells help to resist more stress weather. So far, the technique was only used for the encapsulation of modules, but not for laminating.
The experts at CSE constructed prototypes from the silicone-laminated cells, and tested these photovoltaic modules in a climate chamber at low temperatures and under cyclic loads. The module performance was then tested with a light flasher.
Eventually, researchers from Fraunhofer and Dow Corning Corp. claimed they have demonstrated that silicone lamination is well-suited for certain applications, due to the fact the silicone protects the fragile components on the inside nicely, and moreover, withstands serious temperature fluctuations. With this technology it really is possible, for example, to generate modules with thin Si cells much more robust.