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IMAPS PDC Webinar Series on
Solar Module Packaging Requirements: Designing for Decades of Reliable Performance while Minimizing Environmental Impacts

This two-session on-line Professional Development Course (PDC) webinar will be held:
Mondays, June 6 and 13, 2011

All webinars wil be held 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm EST

IMAPS Members: $125 per webinar; 2-course series $200
Non-members: $200 per webinar; 2-course series $375 (includes one-year complimentary individual membership in IMAPS)


Program Description

Key Words: solar modules, polymeric packaging, life cycle analysis, recycling, packaging criteria, European Environmental Directives, reliability, failure mechanisms, encapsulants

Each session is scheduled for 50 minutes of lecture followed by 10 minutes of Q&A.

Monday, June 6, 12:00-1:00 PM EDT

The renewable energy sector is one of the largest benefactors of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  This federal investment has slowly materialized over the past two years in the form of loan guarantees, conservation bonds, tax credits and rebates.  Each of these economic incentives is intended to increase consumers’ attraction to renewable energy.  However, today solar remains one of the most expensive forms of energy.  Therefore, technological breakthroughs, in addition to these economic incentives, are a necessity to make solar a viable, energy alternative. 

The industry is focused on opportunities to drive down manufacturing costs.  Each company is racing to create a roadmap to grid parity.  One of the emerging technological trends is to utilize low cost, polymeric packaging for solar modules. A package’s primary function is to ensure the solar cells will operate reliably over their 25-year lifetime. Therefore, the selected polymer must simultaneously decrease manufacturing cost and maximize reliability. While this is a daunting task, it is not insurmountable.  For instance, after decades of research the electronics industry successfully moved from ceramic to polymeric packaging for flip-chips.  Solar companies will need to leverage the experiences of the electronics industry to rapidly and successfully utilize polymers as packaging.

This first session will give attendees an understanding of where polymeric components are used in solar modules and their selection criteria. Highlights include:

  • Historical description of polymeric packaging,
  • Introduction to various solar technologies (silicon, thin film, concentrated photovoltaics),
  • Optical, mechanical, thermal, electrical and weathering requirements,
  • Certification requirements in the US and abroad,
  • And common failure mechanisms.

Monday, June 13, 12:00-1:00 PM EDT

Environmental directives (e.g., RoHS and WEEE) imposed on the electronics industry have begun to influence legislators’ and consumers’ attitudes toward solar modules. These directives force companies to embrace the concept of extended producer responsibility.  While an environmentally friendly product is the core value proposition of all solar companies, these directives will force product differentiation based on a module’s environmental attributes.  In effect, these emerging requirements have begun to influence material selection for those modules sold in the US and abroad.  Design engineers will need to place equal emphasis on sustainable design concepts and the aforementioned technical requirements to create a globally competitive product.

This second session will give attendees the skill set for designing environmentally sustainable packaging that is compliant with current and pending global regulations. Highlights include:

  • Extended producer responsibility, as it applies to solar companies,
  • Designing for compliance with European directives,
  • Methods for removing restricted and red listed substances,
  • Utilizing life cycle analysis to minimize environmental impacts,
  • Ease-to-recycle designs,
  • And Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for solar modules.

Who Should Attend?

Attendees will identify a similarity between the technical problems and regulatory pressures experienced by both the solar and electronics industries. For this reason, the series will be relevant to any individual interested in designing polymeric packaging. The first session will have a large technical focus while the second will emphasize the influence of public policy on product development.

Dr. Michelle Poliskie


Dr. Michelle Poliskie currently works at a Silicon Valley start-up. She specializes in process design and material selection of polymeric packaging. Most recently, her synthetic skills and extensive knowledge of materials characterization have been applied to failure analysis, process optimization, and in-line metrology development. Dr. Poliskie is a former lecturer at Johns Hopkins University where she taught polymer synthesis, commercial formulations and characterization techniques.

Dr. Poliskie holds a BA in Economics and a BA in Chemistry (with honors), both from Grinnell College. Her PhD is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Polymer Science. She was the recipient of a National Research Council fellowship, and she recently authored a book on polymeric packaging.

ISBN (1439850720): “Solar Module Packaging: Polymeric Requirements and Selection” CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2011.


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