Silver is a scarce raw material but the first real scale study of recycling polymer solar cells reveals that its use can be sustainable.
Putting up huge nubers of solar panels every day could help address the world’s energy crisis. ‘If you want to solve big problems, then the scale of whatever you are doing is also likely to be big, and so is any waste you generate,’ explains Frederik Krebs who led the study at the Technical University of Denmark. ‘This should therefore be part of your thinking when you are developing something.’
Silver is needed for solar cell electrodes but it is also a precious metal, cutting into both the cost of production and energy payback time of mass-produced solar cells. Now, Krebs’ team has demonstrated that 95% of the silver electrodes in polymer solar cell modules can be reclaimed as silver chloride after simply shredding the modules and soaking them in nitric acid. This yield would diminish the overall energy payback time of the solar cells from 139 days to 128 days, a decrease of 8%.
Interested to know more? Read the full news article by Jennifer Newton on Chemistry World here…
Read the article by R R Søndergaard et al. in EES:
Efficient decommissioning and recycling of polymer solar cells: justification for use of silver
Roar R. Søndergaard, Nieves Espinosa, Mikkel Jørgensen and Frederik C. Krebs
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43746A, Communication