April 4, 2011 -- Lux Research says Cytec is developing an encapsulant targeted at the thin-film solar cell market. The company plans to leverage its experience in UV-cured materials used in laminated glass applications, and ultimately offer a solution that can be cured in a matter of seconds. Incumbent materials like ethelene vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyvinyl butyral (PVB) take at least ten minutes to laminate.
In addition to faster cure times, both companies claim a key advantage of their products will be a lower moisture vapor transmission (MVT) rate, which helps protect the sensitive semiconductor layers. Thin-film modules that replace glass with polymer backsheets and frontsheets can risk moisture intrusion. While the new materials may offer production time savings, this will have to be supported by a raw materials cost that makes them competitive with PVB. Lux suggests that cycle time improvements may not be markedly important to module manufacturers that already have autoclave furnaces.
To read more insights from Lux Research analysts, visit Lux Populi at
http://www.luxresearchinc.com/blog/2011/03/new-encapsulants-for-thin-film-solar-poised-to-hit-the-market/. Here, Lux considers the glass sandwich + edge sealant technique for moisture control, called "filler free," and whether adhesion and strength drive encapsulant selection over moisture barrier qualities.
Lux will address the topic in its upcoming Solar Components State of the Market Report.