DuPont Basks With Solar Product Growth

By Charles Thurston | June 1, 2010

As the need for renewable energy increases, DuPont’s photovoltaic products continue to gain share.

Dupont expects sales from its multi-product platform photovoltaic (PV) unit to  double to $1 billion by next year, and a corporate goal for $2 billion in sales for such energy efficient products by 2014 seems attainable.
The company estimates that the overall PV market is growing more slowly, at 30 percent per year. While the entire industry still awaits commercial release of a paintable solar film, the company has at least now secured a solid role in solar panel and film manufacturing materials.
“The generation of renewable energy will be the fastest growing sector in the energy market for the next 20 years, and materials for photovoltaic applications are a critical success factor for sustainable growth,” said Ian Hudson, president of DuPont Europe, Middle East and Africa.
DuPont recently received the Queen of England’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation for its Solamet photovoltaic metallization paste, as a key component in increasing the energy efficiency of solar cells.
While most of Dupont’s solar products are sold as films or sheets, some are more liquid in form, with tight flow-rate parameters. Among the products Dupont Micro­circuit Materials offers the PV market are its Solamet brand metallization pastes containing aluminum or silver which can be soldered, printed or adhered through other processes on either rigid or flexible substrates.
The company also offers polymer-based silver conductors for use on indium tin oxide (ITO) transparent conductor oxide layers for front side grid applications in thin film copper indium selenide (CIS), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and amorphous silicon cell structures.”
Other product lines include: Teflon and polyester film module front sheet films; encapsulants including Elvax polyvinyl resins, Butacite polyvinyl butyral, and PV5300 coatings for building-integrated solar roof tiles; back sheet materials including Tedlar polyvinyl fluoride films; junction box production resins, including Rynite thermoplastic resins; film substrates including Kapton polyimide film including ceramic-filled versions; seal manufacturing products including Kalrez perfluoroelastomer; and Zonyl and Capstone fluro-surfactants for semiconductor wetting aids.
Dupont PV 5300 encapsulants were key to the development of frameless ceramic-tile based solar tiles produced by Italy’s Photonics S.p.A., based in Modena, which will withstand foot traffic from installation and maintenance workers. Such building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems are expected to become more popular in the U.S. as cost comes down.
Dupont also is installing solar arrays at various facilities to reduce its carbon footprint. It operates the 1,500-solar-panel Waimea Research Center PV array in Kauai, Hawaii, and has other arrays installed in Wilmington, and at Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Since 2007, Dupont has managed the University of Delaware’s Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) Consortium, which began with a $12.2 million grant that could expand into a $100 million program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).