MIDLAND — Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) says its Enlight polyolefin encapsulant films technology continues to improve the performance and lifespan of solar panels.

Crystalline silicon PV modules made with Enlight were performance tested by TÜV Rheinland1 in Germany, and were shown to perform well in all test protocols.

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“This is another step — an important one — that continues to validate the performance of Enlight films for use in crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell technology,” said Mark Hofius, leader of the R&D team. Hofius noted that Dow’s own research shows that using Enlight to make photovoltaic panels can help extend service life and maintain module reliability. Based on accelerated damp heat test results power loss in panels using more traditional films occur after just 2,000 hours. Modules based on Enlight shows no power loss after 10,000 hours.

Using Dow’s polyolefin encapsulant films can also help lower the total system cost of producing the modules. Enlight can allow panel manufacturers to speed up processing up to 30 percent because of an extended window for lamination temperatures and the virtual elimination of bubbles, which leads to fewer rejects, according to Hofius.

“Damage to equipment and modules might also be markedly reduced with our material because this process does not produce acetic acid,” he says.

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Dow began commercial production of these films in Findlay, Ohio, a little more than a year ago. Demand has been so great that the company is already building two additional manufacturing plants that will come on-stream later in 2012 – one in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, and one in Schkopau, Germany, the heart of Europe’s “solar valley.” When complete, these sites will triple Dow’s current capacity to produce Enlight films.

Dow is is involved in solar energy commercial solar farms, producing both rigid and flexible photovoltaic solar modules, and through innovative new roof shingles for residential homes. Current products include adhesives, heat transfer fluids, coolant and wafer cutting fluids, and metallization, imaging, texturizing and cleaning technologies for solar cells, and Powerhouse Solar Shingles.

According to the United Nations Environmental Program, the global solar industry is projected to grow at 25 percent a year over the next five years, as people continue to embrace solar energy as a good source of electricity and as solar energy costs begin to reach parity with other available energy sources.

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More at www.dow.com.