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Measurement of moisture content in photovoltaic panel encapsulants using spectroscopic optical coherence tomography: a feasibility study
Author(s): Shabnam Rashtchi; Pablo D. Ruiz; Ricky Wildman; Ian Ashcroft
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Paper Abstract

EVA, a copolymer of ethylene and vinyl acetate, is a common encapsulant material used in silicon-based PV modules. It contributes to the structural integrity of the modules, provides electrical insulation and also acts as an environmental barrier. However, water can diffuse through EVA into the modules, leading to swelling and chemical degradation, which can impact interfacial bonds, leading to delamination and allowing more ingress to occur that can eventually end up in accelerated corrosion and device failure. Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and gravimetric techniques have been used to quantify water concentration and the diffusion coefficient in free standing EVA films. However, these techniques cannot be applied to measure water content in PV modules deployed in the field, as the encapsulant is usually between a glass front sheet and a back sheet made of glass or multilayered films. In this paper we study the feasibility of combining FTIR and spectroscopic optical coherence tomography (SOCT) to measure water concentration of the EVA layer inside the modules. SOCT provides depth resolved spectral information and thus has the potential of measuring water absorption at different layers in the PV module. These depth-resolved measurements are necessary to inform predictive models developed to study the structural integrity, stability and durability of PV modules. The fundamental principle of the technique is explained, the optimum spectral ranges are identified and the feasibility of a SOCT system is discussed based on light source and detector characteristics. Other strategies are also considered.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 October 2012
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 8472, Reliability of Photovoltaic Cells, Modules, Components, and Systems V, 84720O (16 October 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.928959
Show Author Affiliations
Shabnam Rashtchi, Loughborough Univ. (United Kingdom)
Pablo D. Ruiz, Loughborough Univ. (United Kingdom)
Ricky Wildman, Univ. of Nottingham (United Kingdom)
Ian Ashcroft, Univ. of Nottingham (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8472:
Reliability of Photovoltaic Cells, Modules, Components, and Systems V
Neelkanth G. Dhere; John H. Wohlgemuth, Editor(s)

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