SUNConferences, COMA '13

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Investigating the Effects of Composite Materials in Solar Cell Encapsulation
Warren Hurter, Nickey Janse van Rensburg, Gert Adriaan Oosthuizen

Last modified: 2013-08-21


In the past few decades our society’s increasing demands for energy have naturally resulted in increased utilization of renewable resources such as solar energy.  Due to this strong demand the solar car endurance race was established to challenge researchers in this field. A competitive vehicle needs around six square meters of solar cells that produce approximately one kilowatt of power. This equates to 514 fragile, monocrystalline silicon half cells. The manufacturing challenge is to protect these cells from the terrestrial elements over a prolonged period of time. In this research study an advanced composites solar cell encapsulation method was developed and tested. Experiments have been conducted into the processing of the composite material for improved strength of the solar cells. The effects of composites on reinforcement, electrical efficiency and thermal efficiency of the photovoltaic (PV) cells were evaluated. Impact testing to simulate a hailstone shows that a fibreglass sandwich panel structure will protect the surface of the cells whilst reducing their efficiency by less than 5%.

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