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Comparison of four methods to assess silver release from nano impregnated reverse osmosis membranes

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With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials,

With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials, it is a suitable material that can be used to incorporate with RO to change the membrane performances. Silver is biocidal, which has been used in a variety of consumer products. Recent studies showed that fabricating silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) on membrane surfaces can mitigate the biofouling problem on the membrane. Studies have shown that Ag released from the membrane in the form of either Ag ions or AgNP will accelerate the antimicrobial activity of the membrane. However, the silver release from the membrane will lower the silver loading on the membrane, which will eventually shorten the antimicrobial activity lifetime of the membrane. Therefore, the silver leaching amount is a crucial parameter that needs to be determined for every type of Ag composite membrane.

This study is attempting to compare four different silver leaching test methods, to study the silver leaching potential of the silver impregnated membranes, conducting the advantages and disadvantages of the leaching methods. An In-situ reduction Ag loaded RO membrane was examined in this study. A custom waterjet test was established to create a high-velocity water flow to test the silver leaching from the nanocomposite membrane in a relative extreme environment. The batch leaching test was examined as the most common leaching test method for the silver composite membrane. The cross-flow filtration and dead-end test were also examined to compare the silver leaching amounts.

The silver coated membrane used in this experiment has an initial silver loading of 2.0± 0.51 ug/cm2. The mass balance was conducted for all of the leaching tests. For the batch test, water jet test, and dead-end filtration, the mass balances are all within 100±25%, which is acceptable in this experiment because of the variance of the initial silver loading on the membranes. A bad silver mass balance was observed at cross-flow filtration. Both of AgNP and Ag ions leached in the solution was examined in this experiment. The concentration of total silver leaching into solutions from the four leaching tests are all below the Secondary Drinking Water Standard for silver which is 100 ppb. The cross-flow test is the most aggressive leaching method, which has more than 80% of silver leached from the membrane after 50 hours of the test. The water jet (54 ± 6.9% of silver remaining) can cause higher silver leaching than batch test (85 ± 1.2% of silver remaining) in one-hour, and it can also cause both AgNP and Ag ions leaching from the membrane, which is closer to the leaching condition in the cross-flow test.

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2017

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Dependence of toxicity test results on sample removal methods of PV modules

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The volume of end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) modules is increasing as the global PV market increases, and the global PV waste streams are expected to reach 250,000 metric tons by the end of 2020. If the recycling processes are not in

The volume of end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) modules is increasing as the global PV market increases, and the global PV waste streams are expected to reach 250,000 metric tons by the end of 2020. If the recycling processes are not in place, there would be 60 million tons of end-of-life PV modules lying in the landfills by 2050, that may not become a not-so-sustainable way of sourcing energy since all PV modules could contain certain amount of toxic substances. Currently in the United States, PV modules are categorized as general waste and can be disposed in landfills. However, potential leaching of toxic chemicals and materials, if any, from broken end-of-life modules may pose health or environmental risks. There is no standard procedure to remove samples from PV modules for chemical toxicity testing in the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) laboratories as per EPA 1311 standard. The main objective of this thesis is to develop an unbiased sampling approach for the TCLP testing of PV modules. The TCLP testing was concentrated only for the laminate part of the modules, as they are already existing recycling technologies for the frame and junction box components of PV modules. Four different sample removal methods have been applied to the laminates of five different module manufacturers: coring approach, cell-cut approach, strip-cut approach, and hybrid approach. These removed samples were sent to two different TCLP laboratories, and TCLP results were tested for repeatability within a lab and reproducibility between the labs. The pros and cons of each sample removal method have been explored and the influence of sample removal methods on the variability of TCLP results has been discussed. To reduce the variability of TCLP results to an acceptable level, additional improvements in the coring approach, the best of the four tested options, are still needed.

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2018

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Cell and substrate temperatures of glass/glass and glass/polymer PV modules

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Performance of photovoltaic (PV) modules decrease as the operating temperatures increase. In hot climatic conditions, the operating temperature can reach as high as 85°C for the rooftop modules. Considering a typical power drop of 0.5%/°C for crystalline silicon modules, a

Performance of photovoltaic (PV) modules decrease as the operating temperatures increase. In hot climatic conditions, the operating temperature can reach as high as 85°C for the rooftop modules. Considering a typical power drop of 0.5%/°C for crystalline silicon modules, a performance decrease of approximately 30% could be expected during peak summer seasons due to the difference between module rated temperature of 25°C and operating temperature of 85°C. Therefore, it is critical to accurately predict the temperature of the modules so the performance can be accurately predicted. The module operating temperature is based not only on the ambient and irradiance conditions but is also based on the thermal properties of module packaging materials. One of the key packaging materials that would influence the module operating temperature is the substrate, polymer backsheet or glass. In this study, the thermal influence of three different polymer backsheet substrates and one glass substrate has been investigated through five tasks:

1. Determination and modeling of substrate or module temperature of coupons using four different substrates (three backsheet materials and one glass material).

2. Determination and modeling of cell temperature of coupons using four different substrates (three backsheet materials and one glass material)

3. Determination of temperature difference between cell and individual substrates for coupons of all four substrates

4. Determination of NOCT (nominal operating cell temperature) of coupons using all four substrate materials

5. Comparison of operating temperature difference between backsheet substrate coupons.

All these five tasks have been executed using the specially constructed one-cell coupons with identical cells but with four different substrates. For redundancy, two coupons per substrate were constructed and investigated. This study has attempted to model the effect of thermal conductivity of backsheet material on the cell and backsheet temperatures.

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2017

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Standardized sample extraction procedure for TCLP testing of PV modules

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Solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment has grown at unprecedented rates since the early 2000s. As the global PV market increases, so will the volume of decommissioned PV panels. Growing PV panel waste presents a new environmental challenge, but also unprecedented opportunities

Solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment has grown at unprecedented rates since the early 2000s. As the global PV market increases, so will the volume of decommissioned PV panels. Growing PV panel waste presents a new environmental challenge, but also unprecedented opportunities to create value and pursue new economic avenues. Currently, in the United States, there are no regulations for governing the recycling of solar panels and the recycling process varies by the manufacturer. To bring in PV specific recycling regulations, whether the PV panels are toxic to the landfills, is to be determined. Per existing EPA regulations, PV panels are categorized as general waste and are subjected to a toxicity characterization leaching procedure (TCLP) to determine if it contains any toxic metals that can possibly leach into the landfill. In this thesis, a standardized procedure is developed for extracting samples from an end of life PV module. A literature review of the existing regulations in Europe and other countries is done. The sample extraction procedure is tested on a crystalline Si module to validate the method. The extracted samples are sent to an independent TCLP testing lab and the results are obtained. Image processing technique developed at ASU PRL is used to detect the particle size in a broken module and the size of samples sent is confirmed to follow the regulation.

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2017

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Series resistance increase in field degraded PV modules in different climatic conditions

Description

Global photovoltaic (PV) module installation in 2018 is estimated to exceed 100 GW, and crystalline Si (c-Si) solar cell-based modules have a share more than 90% of the global PV market. To reduce the social cost of PV electricity, further

Global photovoltaic (PV) module installation in 2018 is estimated to exceed 100 GW, and crystalline Si (c-Si) solar cell-based modules have a share more than 90% of the global PV market. To reduce the social cost of PV electricity, further developments in reliability of solar panels are expected. These will lead to realize longer module lifetime and reduced levelized cost of energy. As many as 86 failure modes are observed in PV modules [1] and series resistance increase is one of the major durability issues of all. Series resistance constitutes emitter sheet resistance, metal-semiconductor contact resistance, and resistance across the metal-solder ribbon. Solder bond degradation at the cell interconnect is one of the primary causes for increase in series resistance, which is also considered to be an invisible defect [1]. Combination of intermetallic compounds (IMC) formation during soldering and their growth due to solid state diffusion over its lifetime result in formation of weak interfaces between the solar cell and the interconnect. Thermal cycling under regular operating conditions induce thermo-mechanical fatigue over these weak interfaces resulting in contact reduction or loss. Contact reduction or loss leads to increase in series resistance which further manifests into power and fill factor loss. The degree of intermixing of metallic interfaces and contact loss depends on climatic conditions as temperature and humidity (moisture ingression into the PV module laminate) play a vital role in reaction kinetics of these layers. Modules from Arizona and Florida served as a good sample set to analyze the effects of hot and humid climatic conditions respectively. The results obtained in the current thesis quantifies the thickness of IMC formation from SEM-EDS profiles, where similar modules obtained from different climatic conditions were compared. The results indicate the thickness of the IMC and detachment degree to be growing with age and operating temperatures of the module. This can be seen in CuxSny IMC which is thicker in the case of Arizona module. The results obtained from FL

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aged modules also show that humidity accelerates the formation of IMC as they showed thicker AgxSny layer and weak interconnect-contact interfaces as compared to Arizona modules. It is also shown that climatic conditions have different effects on rate at which CuxSny and AgxSny intermetallic compounds are formed.

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2018

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Seasonal and tilt angle dependence of soiling loss factor and development of artificial soil deposition chamber replicating natural dew cycle

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This is a two-part thesis. Part 1 presents the seasonal and tilt angle dependence of soiling loss factor of photovoltaic (PV) modules over two years for Mesa, Arizona (a desert climatic condition). Part 2 presents the development of an indoor

This is a two-part thesis. Part 1 presents the seasonal and tilt angle dependence of soiling loss factor of photovoltaic (PV) modules over two years for Mesa, Arizona (a desert climatic condition). Part 2 presents the development of an indoor artificial soil deposition chamber replicating natural dew cycle. Several environmental factors affect the performance of PV systems including soiling. Soiling on PV modules results in a decrease of sunlight reaching the solar cell, thereby reducing the current and power output. Dust particles, air pollution particles, pollen, bird droppings and other industrial airborne particles are some natural sources that cause soiling. The dust particles vary from one location to the other in terms of particle size, color, and chemical composition. The thickness and properties of the soil layer determine the optical path of light through the soil/glass interface. Soil accumulation on the glass surface is also influenced by environmental factors such as dew, wind speeds and rainfall. Studies have shown that soil deposition is closely related to tilt angle and exposure period before a rain event. The first part of this thesis analyzes the reduction in irradiance transmitted to a solar cell through the air/soil/glass in comparison to a clean cell (air/glass interface). A time series representation is used to compare seasonal soiling loss factors for two consecutive years (2014-2016). The effect of tilt angle and rain events on these losses are extensively analyzed. Since soiling is a significant field issue, there is a growing need to address the problem, and several companies have come up with solutions such as anti-soiling coatings, automated cleaning systems etc. To test and validate the effectiveness of these anti-soiling coating technologies, various research institutes around the world are working on the design and development of artificial indoor soiling chambers to replicate the natural process in the field. The second part of this thesis work deals with the design and development of an indoor artificial soiling chamber that replicates natural soil deposition process in the field.

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2017