Other Polymeric Applications in Photovoltaic Modules
Because photovoltaic (PV) cells will ultimately reach a technological limit, scientists have investigated alternative packaging materials to improve efficiencies. Antisoiling, antiscratch, and antireflective coatings can be externally applied to PV modules to increase the concentration of incident light and offset diminished performance due to environmental exposure. Module improvements can also be made by substituting traditional packaging components with new materials. High index of refraction polymers can be used as encapsulants to improve PV module performance. These polymers maximize optical coupling between the glass and underlying PV cell. However, due to their higher costs, the benefit rarely warrants this material selection over commodity encapsulants. It is a priority for PV manufacturers to predict performance degradation from laboratory measurements rather than assume the expense of field testing in multiple environments. The combustion by-products of industrialization are considered to be the most deleterious compounds for polymeric degradation. The reactive nature of these compounds makes them an initiator in decomposition reactions.