Green biocomposite as backing layer in solar panel

The present project will be focusing on the preparation and characterization of a green composite to replace the fossil base backsheet as protective layer in solar panel. The green composite consists of biobased polylactic acid and natural filler named vetiver powder.

One of the grand challenges is to encourage the use of renewable energy such as solar energy. Currently solar panels make use of Tedlar as backsheet for protection. However, Tedlar is a fossil base material which is not biodegradable. This project aims to explore the potential of utilizing green composite, consists of biobased polylactic acid (PLA) filled with vetiver filler, as backsheet to replace the Tedlar. Vetiver is a plant that shows promising benefits, it has a naturally antiseptic and cooling property that is traditionally used as a cooling screen. To prepare this backing layer (backsheet), the vetiver powder is mixed with 5 g of coconut oil as the plasticizer and a varying composition of polylactic acid (PLA) of 80% wt, 85% wt, 90% wt, 95% wt and 100% wt. This research is carried out to investigate the effects of adding various dosage of vetiver powder into the PLA matrix, in the aspects of tensile, thermal, water absorption and photovoltaic (PV) cell performance. The expected results including the addition of vetiver powder could enhance the thermal stability of the PLA, at the same time, improve the tensile strength and modulus up to an optimum level. The water absorption rate is expected to increase linearly with the amount of vetiver powder in the composite. The PLA/vetiver composite is expected to show a better PV cell performance than the neat PLA.

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