Modeling Impact Mechanics of 3D Helicoidally Architected Polymer Composites Enabled by Additive Manufacturing for Lightweight Silicon Photovoltaics Technology
journal contributionposted on 12.05.2022, 01:58 by Arief Suriadi Budiman, Rahul Sahay, Komal Agarwal, Rayya Fajarna, Fergyanto E Gunawan, Avinash BajiAvinash Baji, Nagarajan Raghavan
When silicon solar cells are used in the novel lightweight photovoltaic (PV) modules using a sandwich design with polycarbonate sheets on both the front and back sides of the cells, they are much more prone to impact loading, which may be prevalent in four-season countries during wintertime. Yet, the lightweight PV modules have recently become an increasingly important development, especially for certain segments of the renewable energy markets all over the world— such as exhibition halls, factories, supermarkets, farms, etc.—including in countries with harsh hailstorms during winter. Even in the standard PV module design using glass as the front sheet, the silicon cells inside remain fragile and may be prone to impact loading. This impact loading has been widely known to lead to cracks in the silicon solar cells that over an extended period of time may significantly degrade performance (output power). In our group’s previous work, a 3D helicoidally architected fiber-based polymer composite (enabled by an electrospinning-based additive manufacturing methodology) was found to exhibit excellent impact resistance—absorbing much of the energy from the impact load—such that the silicon solar cells encapsulated on both sides by this material breaks only at significantly higher impact load/energy, compared to when a standard, commercial PV encapsulant material was used. In the present study, we aim to use numerical simulation and modeling to enhance our understanding of the stress distribution and evolution during impact loading on such helicoidally arranged fiber-based composite materials, and thus the damage evolution and mechanisms. This could further aid the implementation of the lightweight PV technology for the unique market needs, especially in countries with extreme winter seasons.