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Dow Unveils New Solar Panel Tech

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Solar Power
(credit: istock) Technology Report
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MIDLAND — Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) Wednesday introduced new polyolefin-based technologies to boost the efficiency and ease of manufacturing of solar energy systems.

Dow said Enlight Polyolefin Back Encapsulant Composite Films use patent-pending technology to create a single structure that provides “2-in-1” functionality, serving as both the back encapsulant and backsheet for solar panels.

The company says its next-generation Enlight offers excellent electrical insulation properties, increased resistance to the effects of Potential Induced Degradation and extended module efficiency levels.

“We are committed to finding new and innovative ways to leverage the capabilities of polyolefin technology for the most demanding needs of this industry,” said Brij Sinha, associate director of global strategic marketing for Dow’s Photovoltaic business. “We are using what we learn from working closely with leading module manufacturers around the world to design new products that help enable them to make panels with improved processing, enhanced performance and lower total lifetime systems costs. Leading industry reports underscore the market’s desire for performance and cost improvements in photovoltaic materials. Our polyolefin-based Enlight films can help do just that.”

Developed for rigid crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic modules, these sophisticated composite films serve as both the back encapsulant and backsheet. The use of these “two-in-one” structures can provide significant processing and performance advantages.

Currently, the backsheets of most rigid c-Si modules are constructed with multi-layered films, laminated together with adhesives. Over time, these layers can come apart.

Dow’s innovative coextrusion technology for Enlight Polyolefin Back Encapsulant Composite Films produces a smooth composite film with three seamlessly integrated layers: outer, bonding and encapsulant. The simplified structure helps overcome delamination that can occur between separate encapsulant and backsheet layers and eliminates potential incompatibility between these components, helping to assure improved module performance. The coextrusion process also creates excellent lamellar entanglement at the molecular level of the components, thus eliminating the possibility of interlayer adhesion problems that can come with the more traditional lamination process of a separate back encapsulant and backsheet layers.

In addition to providing “two-in-one” back encapsulant and backsheet functionality, Dow’s coextrusion process provides Enlight BEC Films with these additional advantages:
* Improved Electrical Performance: coextrusion provides these composites with partial discharge levels that can help meet very high voltage requirements.
* Excellent Moisture Barrier: all components of this composite film contain proven moisture-barrier performance for excellent protection, as well as very high resistance to UV and weathering.
* Temperature Resistance: High adhesion to the front encapsulant made with either polyolefin or EVA can be maintained even after severe thermal treatment.

Dow has now improved the PID resistance of Enlight Polyolefin Encapsulant Films, based on internal improvements in technology. Dow research indicates that Enlight Encapsulant Films now have five times better PID resistance compared with EVA films, showing only 15-20 percent loss in power after seven days, versus a 90 percent loss for EVA under the same conditions.

“Dow continues to demonstrate its commitment to the solar panel industry by bringing new technology to the marketplace – and by backing that commitment with manufacturing capacity to deliver these innovative polyolefin films to customers across the globe,” said Jerry Pritchett, global business director for Dow’s Photovoltaic Business. “We now have two plants in operation – one in the USA and one in Thailand – and are working on a third in Germany. We also have a sizable commitment to R&D and technology development, backed by Dow’s incredible expertise in polyolefin technology for this dynamic and growing market.”

In addition to Enlight Encapsulant Films and Enlight Back Encapsulant Composite Films, Dow also makes Adcote Solvent-based Adhesives and Mor-Free Solventless Laminating Adhesives for backsheet products, electronic materials for photoelectric cells, and polyglycol heat transfer fluids. For more information, visit www.dowsolarpv.com.

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