Green Biocomposite as Backing Layer in Solar Panel
A solar panel or photovoltaic panel can convert the solar radiation from sun into electricity, it is a sustainable energy which can replace the energy generated from burning the fossil fuel. However, some of the components in the solar panel is not made from green material, particularly the backing layer (backsheet) which is derived from petroleum-based material. Backsheet can provide protection to the photovoltaic cell from the moisture, heat or other environmental attack. Commercial grade of backsheet named tedlar (polyvinyl fluoride) is derived from petroleum, making it non-biodegradable and facing problem in the heat dissipation that can indirectly affect the performance of the solar panel. Hence, there is a need to produce a better backsheet with the use of green biocomposites. For this research, vetiver powder with different weight loadings of 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% was added into polylactic acid (PLA), coupled with 5 g fixed amount of coconut oil plasticizer to form green biocomposites. This research aims to evaluate the effects of addition of vetiver filler and its varying dosages of vetiver mixture on the performance of PLA by doing a series of characterization tests, which include tensile, density, water absorption, and thermogravimetry analysis. These tests provided preliminary results to assess the performance of the green biocomposites to act as an alternative to commercial backsheet. Through predictions using Rule of Mixtures (ROM), the tensile strength and Young’s modulus increased with the addition of vetiver powder. Same observation reported for the density of the green biocomposites as vetiver has higher density than the PLA. The water absorption rate also increased when more vetivers were added into the PLA, because vetiver is a hygroscopic material.