Product Briefing Outline: Saflex, a unit of Solutia, has launched a new thin gauge polyvinyl butyral (PVB) based encapsulant designed specifically for photovoltaic applications. The new product, Saflex PA41, is claimed to significantly reduce encapsulant usage by 33%, while maintaining module durability and processing performance. The global launch of Saflex PA41 comes shortly after successful completion of IEC 61646 certification, with testing on thin-film modules. Saflex also partnered with module manufacturers to confirm that handling, processing, and throughput of Saflex PA41 met or exceeded expectations compared to thicker gauge PVB encapsulations.
Problem: PV module encapsulation materials are regarded as a high-cost item in the total manufacturing cost of modules. The reduction in material usage while retaining the required lifetime protection criteria as well as reducing manufacturing time is critical to the overall cost reduction programs required for commercial PV module production.
Solution: Saflex PA41 is a second-generation product designed specifically for photovoltaic applications that reduces encapsulant thickness by 33% (from 1.14mm to 0.76mm). The formulation of the PVB was modified to incorporate 'high flow' characteristics which enable encapsulant thickness to be decreased while ensuring the finished module package continues to meet critical durability and performance requirements. The new formulation is also less viscous, compared to traditional PVB products, which improves the encapsulant flow around bus bars and other critical components.
Applications: PV module encapsulation, including c-Si and thin-film types.
Platform: Saflex PA41 also recently passed IEC 61646 certification testing and is UL recognized.
Availability: January 2010 onwards