SOURCE: United Initiators

United Initiators

May 05, 2009 09:06 ET

Initiators Add Stability to Photovoltaic Manufacturing

ELYRIA, OH--(Marketwire - May 5, 2009) - The silicon wafer is where the action is in a photovoltaic module (PVM), and it requires special protection to ensure it performs at maximum levels for an extended period of time.

United Initiators specializes in manufacturing and supplying cross-linking agents to compounders and manufacturers of PVM encapsulates. Cross-linking with peroxide initiators adds many product and performance advantages, chief of which is the improvement in stability of the encapsulate films produced for PV manufacturing.

United Initiators, with facilities in Elyria, Ohio; Mobile, Alabama; Pullach, Germany; Syndey, Australia; and Shanghai, China, is the specialist in customized organic peroxides and inorganic persulfate initiators. Peroxides are the sole focus of United Initiators' business, which is set up to supply products to companies in PV manufacturing.

Stabilizing PVM encapsulates improves their performance, and stabilizes their color and cure characteristics. Solar encapsulates are typically made with ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), which in sheet form is used to surround and protect silicon wafers and the PVMs' circuitry.

PV manufacturers rely on special formulation of EVA to achieve dimensional and UV stability through crosslinking.

Adding stability to the EVA results in a reduction in the tendency for discoloration -- yellowing or hazing -- of EVA over the long term. Other benefits of the increased stability of the current generation of EVA encapsulates include better adhesion, reduced cell breakage and tailored flexibility.

Some PV manufacturing companies are vertically integrated, making the components and assembling the PVMs. They rely on EVA encapsulants tailored to their applications' needs.

"United Initiators helps those in photovoltaic manufacturing learn about the performance enhancements enabled by peroxides, initiators, crosslinking agents, and how to use them to gain the maximum advantage," said Onofrio Palazzolo, United Initiators commercial manager.

Others in photovoltaic manufacturing buy their materials from outside compounders, and then assemble the materials into PVMs. While compounders are knowledgeable about peroxide initiators, United Initiators often is able to assist them in gaining performance with the crosslinking agents.

"Chemical crosslinking essentially changes the performance characteristics and better stabilizes the encapsulating materials, and thus we work to inform our customers about these facts," Palazzolo said. "TBPEHC is a tailored peroxide specifically for the PVM encapsulation."

He said typical questions from PV manufacturing companies revolve around the temperature of decomposition. "Certain specific peroxides tailored for the solar encapsulation industry start the reaction at a lower temperature, which is highly desirable," Palazzolo said.

Cross-linking in PV manufacturing may extend performance of encapsulate sheet material to 20 or 30 years -- a period as long as the product's lifespan. Palazzolo said cross-linking is the reason for an extended performance life. Cross-linking by peroxides has a positive effect on the properties of materials. Cross-linking results in a low compression set, improved thermal aging and elimination of discoloration.

Photovoltaic manufacturing customers benefit from the experience and commitment of United Initiators in Organic Peroxides. "Many in the polymer industry had historically used United products like DHBP and TBPEHC," Palazzolo noted, "and have benefited from the performance of United Initiators' peroxide for crosslinking to the point where they now are considered standard materials also in PVMs for solar panels."

For more information on using initiators to adding stability to photovoltaic module encapsulates, visit www.PVMEncapsulates.com.

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