US SABIC IP announces PET replacement for photovoltaics

02 May 2011 23:40  [Source: ICIS news]

BOSTON (ICIS)--SABIC Innovative Plastics (IP) has developed a replacement for polyethylene terephalate (PET) to use with, and advance, flexible photovoltaic (PV) technology, a company representative said on Monday.

At a presentation during the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) annual technical conference (ANTEC), Jian Zhou, lead scientist and product developer for SABIC IP, said the company is using polycarbonate (PC) to replace glass and other materials, and modified polyphenylene ether (MPPE) to replace PET in flexible photovoltaic applications.

Conventional PV modules generally are made with a rigid glass front sheet, elastomeric encapsulation layers and a laminated Tedlar-PET-Tedlar backing sheet, "which makes them relatively heavy and inflexible", Zhou said.

"Flexible or semi-flexible lightweight modules using a transparent polymeric front sheet are desired for many applications, such as building integrated PV applications," he added.

"PC film is tougher in terms of puncture resistance", and less expensive than glass, Zhou said. "Durability is the number one requirement, and low cost is also critical."

Although MPPE film is more expensive than general purpose PET, it is "overall comparable because of the value-addded properties",  like its halogen-free flame retardation, electrical insulation and hydrothermal resistance, said Zhou. PC was considered for the backsheet, but did not have the hydrothermic resistance needed.

Replacing the glass with PC will make the PV module weigh less as well, reducing the installation cost and, perhaps, encouraging further use of PV technology, added Zhou said.

According to SABIC IP, roughly 80% of global PV consumption occurs in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic.

SPE's ANTEC takes place in Boston from 1-4 May.


To learn more about PET, visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Ivan Lerner
+1 713 525 2653

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