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Efficient recycling process for perovskite solar cells


A study by the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN) has developed an efficient and environmentally friendly process for recycling perovskite solar cells.

In the paper published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, a method is presented with which up to 99.97 percent of the materials used in a solar cell can be recovered and reused - with comparable efficiency, less waste and lower costs. This is the first time that such a high level of efficiency has been achieved in the recycling of perovskite solar cells.

Using layer-by-layer solvent extraction, the research team has succeeded in recovering and purifying the individual components and producing new solar cells from them. The method could enable a closed recycling loop for solar modules for the first time, which conserves resources and reduces waste.

This approach represents an advantage of perovskite solar cells over conventional silicon solar cells. Separating the individual components of silicon photovoltaic modules is very laborious due to the integrated, i.e. hardly separable, structure of the modules, which nevertheless enables the modules to have a long service life.

"The most important aspect of this work is its comprehensive evaluation. It goes beyond the mere development of a recycling concept by thoroughly examining its effectiveness, economic viability and environmental impact," says Zhenni Wu from the lead team of researchers involved from the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg.

Photovoltaics (PV) plays a decisive role in the energy transition. The solar industry continues to grow: enormous capacities are set to be added in the coming decades. Although PV modules are designed to last as long as possible, they and their valuable materials end up in landfill at the end of their life. This means that not only material but also potential for savings is lost.

Technical and economic forecasts from the study indicate that the proposed recycling process has the potential for significant cost savings. In the laboratory, recycling could reduce material costs by up to 64 percent, in industrial production by up to 61 percent.

» Original publication

Source: Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN)