The expected surge of the solar cell industry in the next
four years is triggering a wave of new materials technology, particularly for
the protective backsheet, which is usually a multi-film laminate anchored by DuPont's Tedlar fluroropolymer
"The demands on this composite sheet are particularly high,"
says Stefan Tomke, who heads product development at Henkel for laminating
adhesives. "During the 20 to 25 years of its service lifetime, the backsheet is
expected to continuously withstand all the tough weathering conditions to which
it is exposed in its roof-top position."
Extreme hydrolysis is a particular problem, and the
adhesives especially need to exhibit enormous resilience. UV resistance is also
paramount as the backsheet must not be allowed to yellow.
Two-Component Adhesive "Added to this is the fact that, during the laminate
manufacturing process, the adhesives have to readily withstand temperatures of
up to 150C for periods of 25 to 35 minutes," Tomke says. Henkel developed a new
two-component adhesive under the Liofil brand that provides thermal resistance
at temperatures of 200C, and provide 2,000 hours of weathering at 85C and 85
percent relative humidity without deterioration.
A start-up company in California
new backsheet materials made from plant-based plastics. One film material is
made from castor oil-based nylon 11, while a new cellulosic sheet is made from a
cotton feedstock. DuPont, meanwhile, is investing $120 million to boost
capacity 50 percent for the resins used to make Tedlar films.
Mitsubishi Plastics has developed an ultra-higher barrier
film for back sheets used in crystalline silicon solar modules that require a
humidity barrier of 0.2g/m2/day, and one for thin PV cells that need
humidity barrier of 0.02g/m2/day. The Back-Barrier is also being
developed for use in dye-sensitized and organic thin-film solar cells, which
require an even higher humidity barrier. Developed in Japan,
Mitsubishi's new barrier films rely on a variety of polymer substrates that are
treated with ionized solutions.
Other interesting advances are also taking place in
adhesive. Henkel's Emerson & Cuming brand developed ECCOBONDTM
CA 3556 HF for high throughput solar cell production processes. The new
adhesive creates a flexible electrically conductive bond with high peel
strength and long term.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
ABI Research, a firm based in the UK that specializes in analyzing global connectivity and other emerging technologies, estimates there will be 40.9 billion active wirelessly interconnected “things” by 2020. The driving force is the usual suspect: the Internet of Things.
Just in time for Earth Day, chemicals leader Bayer MaterialScience reported from the UTECH Europe 2015 polyurethane show on programs and applications using its materials to help reduce energy usage. The company also gave an update on its CO2-based PU as that eco-friendly material comes closer to production.
Solar and wind energy are becoming more viable as a source of energy on the electric grid. For decades, the major drawback to solar and wind was that they’re temperamental. A cloudy day kills solar and a still day renders the wind turbines useless. Automation tools, however, are providing a path to help these renewables become practical.
In honor of Earth Day, the National Security Agency has launched the STEM Recycling Challenge in Maryland schools to encourage kids to think about where the garbage they throw out every day actually goes. The agency has also introduced “Dunk,” a muscular blue cartoon recycling bin wearing shorts and sneakers.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.