Disposal of photovoltaic panels

Disposal of photovoltaic panels

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The disposal of photovoltaic panelsit is already a concrete reality: they are the same producers and importers ofphotovoltaic panelsto arrange for the disposal of the modules.

The average life of aphotovoltaic systemis 20-25 years old; however, many companies do not use the plant until the end of its life cycle and feel the need to replace the old panels adopting modules that can offer better performance. In this way, the amount of "waste "of the sectorphotovoltaicit grows in proportion to the speed with which technologies advance.

THEsolar panelsthey must bedisposed ofas required by the European directive on waste from electrical and electronic equipment, the so-called WEEE. The directive stipulates that the producers (or importers) themselves must deal with thedisposal godspanels:their task is to recover and put all the recyclable materials that make up the modules back into the production cycle.

The recovery of the raw materials that constitute isolar panelstakes place by means of thermal and / or mechanical processes capable of separating the different materials. A photovoltaic module is characterized by a sandwich structure given by an aluminum frame, a glass cover and a layer of silicon with silver that make up the solar cells. In aphotovoltaic modulejust as important are the electrical connections between the cells given by the copper.

By means of thermal and mechanical processes the companies that provide thedisposal of photovoltaic panelsthey are able to recover materials such as glass, plastic, aluminum, silicon and copper. With thedisposal of photovoltaic panelsthe recovery and resale of raw materials can represent a real business, just think that from a "I decline"of 21 kg (one panel) it will be possible to obtain:

  • 15 kg of glass
  • 2.8 kg of plastic
  • 2 kg of aluminum
  • 1 kg of silicon powder
  • 140 grams of copper

As explained in the article on the recovery and reuse of rare earths, also in this case the recovery procedure can be divided, at a descriptive level, into two distinct phases. Thedisposal of photovoltaic panelscan be described in three different times:
The company uninstalls the modules and transports them to the plant.
- Preliminary treatment or separation
The first stage is mechanical. A machine physically separates the glass from the other components of the silicon sandwich
-Heat treatment
By means of a thermal process, in a controlled environment, it is possible to separate the individual materials. Copper, silicon and plastics are separated from the support cell.

This just described is only one of the various processes used for it disposal of photovoltaic panels. Another process ofdisposal of solar panels designed to be applied on an industrial scale, it involves the use of fluidized bed reactors.

For a visual study we recommend viewing oursPhoto gallerydedicated todisposal of solar panels.

Video: Recycling of disused photovoltaic modules (May 2022).