Saflex, a business unit of Solutia, is launching a breakthrough solar encapsulant that helps increase the efficiency of the solar module while reducing material usage. The new product, called Saflex(R) Radiant White PA27, represents a new class of value-added encapsulants and is based on collaboration between Oerlikon Solar and Saflex to rapidly drive thin film PV technology towards grid parity.
Unlike standard encapsulants, Saflex Radiant White PA27 is unique in that it continues to ensure long term durability of panels but also reflects light back through the module that is not initially absorbed by the active layers. Module manufacturers can expect panel efficiency to increase due to the higher reflectivity of white PA27 compared to other reflective technologies like white paint or metallic back contacts.
"We continually challenge all suppliers to aggressively deliver solutions to help make solar power economically viable around the world," comments Dai-Won Suh, Strategic Sourcing Manager for Oerlikon Solar. "Saflex exceeded our expectations by developing a new encapsulant that improved panel efficiency and further reduced material usage in record time."
Saflex PA27 is manufactured to an ultra-thin thickness of 0.51mm compared to standard PVB encapsulants which typically range from 0.76mm to 1.14mm in thickness.
To re-direct light back through the film for improved energy conversion, most solar modules utilize a reflective metallic stack or reflective white coat. Saflex PA27 incorporates the reflective benefits provided by these more traditional methods into the encapsulant giving module manufacturers a cost effective solution to increase solar panel efficiency and simplify the manufacturing process.
"We understand that Oerlikon Solar's customers expect long-term efficiency gains with Micromorph(R) PV technology," reports Christopher Reed, Saflex Global Business Director, Photovoltaics. "Working closely with Oerlikon Solar, we were able to develop an advanced reflective encapsulant for Micromorph manufacturers to help drive down cost and maximize productivity. This supports Oerlikon Solar's goal of making solar energy economically viable."
In addition to its reflective benefits, Saflex PA27 ushers in a new era of electrical insulation with a two-order-of-magnitude increase in bulk resistivity. This equates to significant improvements in the wet insulation resistance of the module, resulting in a reduction in current losses to ground and an increase in the power collected from each module.
Saflex PA27 is based on proven 3G PVB chemistry which was first introduced in 1997. Test results confirm Saflex 3G PVB to be less moisture sensitive which enables high adhesion especially at the edges, even as environmental conditions, including humidity, fluctuate.