University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Solar Panel Sustainability: End-of-Life Recycling

Presenter Information

Lucas BertucciFollow

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Chemical Engineering

Minor

Computer Science, Mathematics, Photography

Institution 22-23

University of Kentucky

KY House District #

33

KY Senate District #

7

Department

Department of Mining Engineering

Abstract

The incorporation of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology into the United States’ energy grid is on the rise due to sustainability trends and policy initiatives. As the PV technology ages and as natural disasters such as that of Hurricane Ian in the Atlantic occur, end-of-life solar panels are becoming a waste issue. The concentration of lead in end-of-life PV panels require them to be disposed of as a hazardous waste. Additionally by 2050, end-of-life solar panels will be worth a combined total of $15 billion in recycling potential with the capability to produce 2 billion new PV panels. It is the purpose of this work to present our research and developments in solar panel recycling. Initial efforts are focused on defining the elemental composition in end-of life panels and where the elements of interest are concentrated. Furthermore, this work seeks to evaluate different recycling methodologies to separate the glass, plastic, and solar cell fractions. While mitigating the impact of the hazardous waste is also of interest, the goal of this project is the selective recovery of these elements to enable their reintegration into the green energy sector for a sustainable future.

This work is supported by the Lee T. Todd, Jr. Student Innovation Scholarship and the UK Center for Applied Energy Research.

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Solar Panel Sustainability: End-of-Life Recycling

The incorporation of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology into the United States’ energy grid is on the rise due to sustainability trends and policy initiatives. As the PV technology ages and as natural disasters such as that of Hurricane Ian in the Atlantic occur, end-of-life solar panels are becoming a waste issue. The concentration of lead in end-of-life PV panels require them to be disposed of as a hazardous waste. Additionally by 2050, end-of-life solar panels will be worth a combined total of $15 billion in recycling potential with the capability to produce 2 billion new PV panels. It is the purpose of this work to present our research and developments in solar panel recycling. Initial efforts are focused on defining the elemental composition in end-of life panels and where the elements of interest are concentrated. Furthermore, this work seeks to evaluate different recycling methodologies to separate the glass, plastic, and solar cell fractions. While mitigating the impact of the hazardous waste is also of interest, the goal of this project is the selective recovery of these elements to enable their reintegration into the green energy sector for a sustainable future.

This work is supported by the Lee T. Todd, Jr. Student Innovation Scholarship and the UK Center for Applied Energy Research.