Re-thinking Solar Panel Waste

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Science Direct forecasts worldwide solar PV waste will to reach around 78 million tonnes by 2050. Recovery of materials such as silicon has traditionally needed hydrofluoric acid, a highly toxic and corrosive chemical. Scientists have found a new way to recover silicon which uses a specific chemical treatment sequence, using less toxic chemicals. The process delivers a silicon purity of 99.9984%, recovers more useful materials than just silicon and delivers a profit of $185 on every 1kg of solar panel recycled in this manner.


https://www.saurenergy.com/solar-energy-news/indian-scientists-recover-pure-silicon-from-obsolete-solar-cells



What do you think?


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Comments
Jeremy Wright @ 2021.12.04 6:44 AM
One less argument against the necessary proliferation of solar facilities!

geoff @ 2022.01.12 9:42 AM
This is a really interesting topic. The issue of sustainably recycling solar panels has been on my mind for a while. The article talks about silicon, aluminum etc, I wonder what is being done to recover and reuse the rare earth elements in the panels. I also am intrigued to see what the “energy equation” is re total energy captured by a panel vs energy needed to manufacture and ultimately recycle it. 

Kylie Hargreaves @ 2022.01.12 9:42 AM
@geoff - Hi Geoff, I haven't seen anything specific to rare-earth metals recovery in the solar panel sector, but certainly its a focus in the e-waste industry. I suspect the first challenge of efficient and scalable disassembly (eg. getting the thin-film off) is the first step, then the extraction of some of the critical metals that might be used, depending on the manufacturing process, such as cadmium or silver.  Re energy equation - absolutely, there is quite a lot of focus on this, again the principle being cradle to grave life-cycle analysis. What that doesn't do however, is take into account the externalities of the "land-fill" option. In other words, the energy equation for recovery is typically always going to be higher than the energy consumed to dump it!


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