Renewable Energy Material Advancement On Tap

Saflex, a business unit of Solutia, is launching a solar encapsulant that it claims helps increase the efficiency of the solar module while reducing material usage. The new product, called Saflex Radiant White PA27 is based on collaboration between Oerlikon Solar and Saflex to rapidly drive thin film PV technology towards grid parity.

Saflex Radiant White PA27 reflects light back through the module that is not initially absorbed by the active layers. Module manufacturers can expect panel efficiency to increase due to the higher reflectivity of white PA27 compared to other reflective technologies, the company said. Saflex PA27 is manufactured to a thickness of 0.51mm compared to standard PVB encapsulants which typically range from 0.76mm to 1.14mm in thickness.

“We continually challenge all suppliers to aggressively deliver solutions to help make solar power economically viable around the world,” said Dai-Won Suh, strategic sourcing manager for Oerlikon Solar. “Saflex exceeded our expectations by developing a new encapsulant that improved panel efficiency and further reduced material usage in record time.”

Composite Competition Could Help Wave Energy Development

Also this week, Owens Corning launched a global competition to find new applications for composite materials. Announced at the JEC Composites Show in Paris, the Composite App Challenge is focused on drawing entrants in four categories to help resolve some of society’s pressing issues, including renewable energy implementation.

The company said that large scale wind energy is not practical without composite materials – and they are key to many other emerging technologies such as wave energy and ocean thermal systems.

“Since the commercialization of glass fibers more than 70 years ago, Owens Corning has led the world in developing applications for composite materials,” said Ashish Diwanji, vice president of innovation for the Owens Corning Composite Solutions Business. “The world has never been more in need of the corrosion-resistant, energy-efficient, protective properties composites deliver. With this competition we are looking for the next big application to help change the world in the way only composites materials can, and help drive the growth of the industry.”

As part of the challenge US $250,000 will be awarded, including a $200,000 commercial development award for a composite application that can be introduced by the end of 2012, and a total of $50,000 for four composite application ideas for that effectively address marketplace needs, appear to be technically feasible and have a perceived market opportunity. One $20,000 award is for anyone and three $10,000 awards are reserved for students.

Other categories included in the competition are infrastructure, fuel efficiency and armor. Participants must submit their applications or ideas through the competition Web site by July 15, 2010.

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