Engineers on the College of New South Wales (UNSW) have developed a brand new, simpler methodology of recycling end-of-life photo voltaic panels. The approach permits them to rapidly and effectively separate 99% of the elements of the PV cell.
From pv journal Australia
The patented course of includes the usage of stainless steels balls as a high-abrasion sieving assist, with the UNSW workforce saying that in assessments they have been in a position to extract 99% of the components, together with silver, from the photo voltaic cellw for potential reuse.
Recycling end-of-life photo voltaic panels utterly continues to be a problem as the person supplies, together with glass, silicon, valuable metals, cables and plastics, are mixed in a means that makes them tough to separate. For the method to be viable, the elements should be rigorously separated to keep away from contamination, however that’s tough to attain.
However now a workforce from the UNSW Course of Modeling and Optimization of Reacting Circulation (ProMO) lab, led by Professor Yansong Shen, has developed a brand new course of that enables them to rapidly and effectively kind particular person supplies. The method consists of typical strategies for separating massive elements, akin to aluminum frames and glass sheets, and cell crushing, however depends on a extremely abrasive separation system to enhance the method.
“The important thing to our new course of is the addition of sieving aids that assist crush the photo voltaic cells into smaller particles that permit a greater separation of all of the elements,” mentioned Shen. “That makes it simpler to extract important components like silver which might be in photo voltaic cells.”
The ProMO analysis workforce found that utilizing stainless-steel balls as a sieving assist offered the most effective resolution for the method.
“We spent about three or 4 months engaged on that aspect, additionally testing with sieving aids product of clay or plastic,” workforce member Chengsun He mentioned. “We will use completely different sizes of sieving assist for various phases of the method. The primary function is to make sure that all of the particles of the PV cells will be crushed by the sieving aids, whereas the glass and different essential materials stay on the prime. “
Your entire technique of crushing and sieving, which takes place inside a vibrating container, takes 5 to fifteen minutes to successfully separate 99% of the supplies.
As soon as the fabric is separated utilizing the brand new patented course of, the workforce is ready to use a conventional chemical leaching, in addition to rain to extract particular components akin to pure silica and silver, which account for about 0.05% of the full weight of a panel however make up roughly 14% of the fabric worth.
Shen mentioned that the workforce is already working with some industrial companions “however we need to be a part of extra industrial collaborations to scale up this course of and enhance the financial feasibility of the PV recycling course of… This patent is just one a part of a recycling course of for end-of-life photo voltaic panels and we’re additionally engaged on different options in different steps.
The Worldwide Renewable Vitality Company (IRENA) says that the cumulative quantity of PV waste worldwide will attain as much as 8 million tons by 2030. That quantity will rise to as much as 78 million tons of waste by the yr 2050 as successive generations of photo voltaic panels put in on the flip of the century attain their finish of life, in line with IRENA.
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