Integrating crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells into decorative glazing
Hardy, Dorothy Anne
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Photovoltaic cells are often perceived as an ugly addition to glazing. Improvements could make photovoltaics more attractive for use in architecture, increasing the opportunities to generate electricity on the surfaces of buildings. This research demonstrates methods of integrating crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells into decorative glazing. The aim was to explore the use of a combination of opaque, reflective and coloured materials with crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells in glazing designs, to enhance appearance whilst maintaining good photovoltaic generation. Colour was incorporated through the use of Lumogen F dyes (BASF) added to the photovoltaic encapsulants Sylgard 184 (Dow Corning) and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate: Solutia Vistasolar Fastcure 486.00). The absorption and emission properties of these new material combinations were measured. The dyes degraded quickly under both accelerated and outdoor testing. Glazing designs were created that incorporated Lumogen dyes, plus opaque and reflective materials. The opaque and reflective materials were used to disguise the square photovoltaic cells. This demonstrated that crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells could be assimilated into a wide variety of architectural glazing. Reflective materials and fluorescent dyes were shown to improve maximum electrical current from widely-spaced crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells. Further work is recommended to establish durable material combinations for use with photovoltaics in decorative glazing.