Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Environmental Engineering
Serrae Reed - University of Houston
Co-Author(s): Alexis Power, Arizona State University, Phoenix Elise Harmon, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Phoenix
As photovoltaics gain momentum in the market, more photovoltaic waste will be generated. Massive amounts of waste have not yet become an urgent issue because the average lifetime of a photovoltaic (PV) module is 25 years. However, in the next 30 years, it is projected that 78 million metric tons of PV waste will need to be disposed of and recycled. The environmental and energy benefits of the current PV recycling process outweigh the recycling energy burdens. However, the second step in the process, removal of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), is the most difficult and energy intensive step. This step is an energy hotspot that can be improved. Previous studies that investigate EVA delamination do not report the energy requirements for the methods. This study addresses this knowledge gap by reporting the energy usage of probe sonicator delamination, heated organic solvent based delamination, and furnace delamination. This study also reports the success rates for each method. The energy data collected will be used in a life cycle assessment to identify the most environmentally favorable PV recycling method. It compares the energy requirements of these lab-tested delamination methods to those already practiced in industry, such as breaking the EVA bond using a shredder and hammermill. The results of the study show that muffle furnace delamination is the most suitable delamination method. It takes as little as 12 minutes to complete, uses a simple one-step process, and has the potential to delaminate many modules at one time with an energy requirement of around 1 kwh/m². The heated solvent method is not ideal as it takes as long as 17 hours to complete.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This material is based upon work primarily supported by the National Science Foundation under award No. 1560031 and by the Engineering Research Center Program of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the Department of Energy under NSF Cooperative Agreement No. EEC‐1041895.
Faculty Advisor: Dwarak Triplican and Thomas Seager, Dtriplic@asu.edu
Role: As part of my REU experience at Arizona State University, I conducted the initial literature review, generated multiple solutions to the problem we were addressing, analyzed the possible solution and selected 3 of those methods to test in the laboratory. From there I designed several experiments to test the 3 methods to generate quantitative and comparable data. Lastly, assessed and evaluated the methods using the data from the experiments to determine the most energy efficient solution.