DuPont’s Solution to Fragile Solar Cells

Open Edged Solar Roofing TilesOne of the biggest problems with solar cells currently on the market is that they are extremely easy to break. Companies intent on manufacturing any sort of solar powered products have to find solutions, and few have yet been perfect. Hoping to change this trend, DuPont recently announced the launch of two new lines of encapsulants specifically designed to contend with the trials inherent in manufacturing photovoltaic products.

An encapsulant is essentially any material that encloses, or encapsulates, another — generally to protect it from harsh environmental conditions. In this case, DuPont’s PV5200 series is a flexible product, aimed at protecting thin films. Their PV5300 series is extremely rigid and durable, designed to protect solar cells used in architectural projects that are exposed to the elements. Both can adhere to glass as well as other materials and provide protection from moisture and other elemental exposure while allowing for the good transmission of visible light. DuPont claims their new encapsulants can increase the overall strength, durability, and cost-per-watt efficiency of photovoltaics.

Shortly after they officially launched the line, DuPont announced the commercialization of the first building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) material to use PV5300 encapsulant sheets — a collection of solar tiles simply called the “ROOF Collection,” made by the Italian company SYSTEM Photonics. A spokesman for SYSTEM Photonics said that DuPont’s product was stiff enough for easy mass manufacturing of their product and provided greater impact resistance and protection from the weather than products produced by the chemical giant’s competitors.

DuPont has wagered a significant portion of the company’s fortunes on their environmental goals both within and without and has committed significant R&D resources to supplying the emerging photovoltaic industry. By 2012, they project that sales from their portfolio of photovoltaic products alone will triple to more than $1 billion.

Photo Credit: DuPont