Leverkusen, Germany -- Bayer MaterialScience says it is committed to developing sustainable technologies and materials, particularly when it comes to using energy from renewable sources. With photovoltaics (PV), for example, the focus is on customer-specific solutions featuring higher energy efficiency, lower manufacturing costs and a broader range of applications.
"The current development portfolio offers a variety of innovations, including polyurethane sheathing for solar modules with an integrated assembly system, a sandwich composite of polycarbonate sheets with solar cells, and flexible solar modules with higher efficiency," said Dr Frithjof Hannig, who coordinates photovoltaics activities at Bayer MaterialScience, in a 2 Sept announcement.
At present, BMS says, crystalline solar cells are leading the way worldwide in terms of solar technology. These are encapsulated by Platilon hot-melt adhesive films made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which BMS says have "proved to be superior to other materials used for the same purpose." This is particularly true of their flexibility in bonding with relatively hard materials such as polycarbonate and glass, BMS adds.
The TPU film allow continuous, vacuum-free processing without crosslinking and gives no emissions. "This is a clear advantage in terms of productivity in the manufacture of photovoltaic modules. What's more, the film can be recycled and enables complete solar modules to be repaired," said Hannig.
In solar panels, the Solon SE's Black 160/05 in-roof solar module uses an integrated assembly system based on a Bayflex polyurethane system. These modules are fitted without conventional installation systems, since fastening elements integrated into the plastic allow the module to be screwed directly onto the roof battens.
Also, the overlapping polyurethane frame ensures that rainwater runs off easily and does not penetrate the roof. "In other words, this module is one of only a few genuine in-roof solutions in which the surface acts as a water-bearing layer, which means that costly substructures are no longer necessary. As a result, this innovative product delivers a low-cost, all-in-one solution", explains Hannig.
In addition to the simplified substructure, the polyurethane coating of solar modules also opens up a whole range of design opportunities.
A polyurethane electrical encapsulation system based on Baydur E is recommended for insulating the sockets of solar modules. It fills even narrow gaps and cavities very quickly and offers reliable protection against external influences.
Polyurethane systems house BaySystems in Denmark and Isotherm AG of Switzerland, have developed a cost-effective process based on reaction injection molding (RIM), in which electrical parts can be enclosed in a single step. This electrical encapsulation system has been tailor-made for this application and exhibits flame retardance in line with the requirements of UL 94 V-O.
BMS envisages that photovoltaic uses could extend into visionary applications: one example is a "translator shirt," where voice recognition software would allow a speaker's translated words to appear on the shirt.
"The surfaces of certain textiles can be equipped with photovoltaic elements, while other areas exhibit the properties of batteries. This would provide the power supply for the shirt," said Eckard Foltin from the Creative Center at Bayer MaterialScience.
All the user would have to do is start the programme and enter the target language via a label with integrated microphone and translation unit. "This application could help overcome language barriers," says Foltin.
BMS plans to show these developments Stand A 75 in Hall 6 of the K 2010 event in Duesseldorf 27 Oct - 3 Nov 2010.
(More informationcan be found at http://www.k2010.bayermaterialscience.com)