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Investigation of Test Methods, Material Properties, and Processes for Solar Cell Encapsulants. Eighteenth Quarterly Progress Report, August 12-November 12, 1980

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The goal of this program is to identify, evaluate, and recommend encapsulant materials and processes for the production of cost-effective, long-life solar cell modules. A survey was made of elastomers for use as gaskets for the photovoltaic module. Of the wide variety of materials examined EPDM offered the optimum combination of low compression set and low cost. The preference for EPDM is borne out by its long history of use as an automobile gasket. The commercial availability of materials that would be useful for sealants between the edge of the module and the gasket was investigated. Butyl sealants have the best combination of physical properties, low cost and a well-documented history of performance. A preferred composition has not yet been identified. One laminating type pottant ethylene/methyl acrylate copolymer (EMA), and two casting polymers, polybutyl acrylate and polyurethane, have been under investigation this past quarter. An EMA formulation has been developed which is easily extrudable and cures to a high gel content. So far only one commercial US source (Quinn) of aliphatic polyurethane has been located. Work is continuing to improve reaction rate as well as to eliminate source(s) of bubble formation during module fabrication. Considerable effort was spent in developing an improved polybutyl acrylate casting formulation providing high gel. Many viable curing systems are now available: however, the best formulation considering physical properties, freedom from bubbles as well as cure time utilizes Lupersol II (aliphatic peroxide) initiator. This initiator gives the desired gel after 20 minute cure at 45 exp 0 C or 12 minute cure at 55 exp 0 C. (ERA citation 06:012161)
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