Pyrolysis kinetic modeling of a poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) encapsulant found in waste photovoltaic modules

Charlie Farrell, Ahmed I. Osman, John Harrison, Ashlene Vennard, Adrian Murphy, Rory Doherty, Mark Russell, Vignesh Kumaravel, Ala'a H. Al-Muhtaseb, Xiaolei Zhang, Jehad K. Abu-Dahrieh, David W. Rooney

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Abstract

As the global cumulative installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) devices grows every year, a proportionate number of waste PV modules arises because of their limited lifespan. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be approximately 60–78 million tonnes of PV waste (Farrell, C.; Osman, A. I.; Zhang, X. et al. Sci Rep.2019, 9, 5267). These modules are bound in a strong encapsulated laminate that is prone to imminent degradation. Subsequently, a form of treatment is required to remove a problematic polymeric material such as the encapsulant poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) (EVA) in order to recycle. Pyrolysis is an ideal option that facilitates clean delamination by removing the polymer fraction, and it does not promote chemical oxidation to any of the constituents left behind after pyrolysis. To date, there are limited studies on the pyrolysis of EVA found in PV modules, resulting in significant gaps in the knowledge of pyrolysis kinetic parameters. This work aims to investigate the pyrolysis reaction kinetics concerning the EVA encapsulant found in end-of-life (EoL) crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV modules. The thermoanalytical technique employed was thermogravimetric analysis, which was carried out at 0.5, 1, 2, 4, and 5 °C min–1 to ensure accuracy and high resolution while analyzing the kinetics. The kinetic triplet was determined and reported for the first time using the Advanced Kinetics and Technology Solutions (AKTS) Thermokinetics software. The main kinetic modeling method employed was the Friedman differential isoconversional method. Other conventional kinetic modeling approaches were also used, such as the integral (Ozawa) and ASTM-E698 methods for comparison of apparent activation energy. It was observed that the activation energy values for each method were 167.66–260.00, 259.70, and 167.00–252.65 kJ mol–1 for EVA pyrolysis. Additionally, isothermal, nonisothermal, and step-based predictions were reported for the first time using the thermokinetics package. Furthermore, pyrolysis of EVA can have a triple role in the successful delamination of PV modules, recovery of additional constituents, and aiding of waste management of this problematic polymer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13492-13504
Number of pages13
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Volume60
Early online date10 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • pyrolysis
  • kinetic modelling
  • poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate)
  • encapsulant
  • waste photovoltaic modules

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