Films & Functional Polymers PET Films for Photovoltaic modules
Toyobo's SHINEBEAM® polyester (PET) films used as backsheet materials of photovoltaic modules contain no heavy metals, so they are environmentally friendly. The development works began 13 years ago.
In 1997, the Polyester Polymerization Group at the Toyobo Research Center began development of a heavy metal-free new catalyst. "For many years, polyester production mostly used catalysts based on the heavy metal antimony. Because of its low activity, aluminum was thought to be unsuitable as a catalyst." - Polymers Production Technology Department General Manager Yoshio Araki
Through extensive research, Toyobo became the world leader in the successful development of its GS (Green & Sustainable) Catalyst which uses aluminum and achieves both catalytic activity and higher polyester thermal stability. The GS Catalyst facilitates the production of polyesters with good color tone and clarity, and has drawn attention worldwide.
With the growing interest in preserving the global environment, the Toyobo Group was eager to find additional applications utilizing the unique properties of the GS Catalyst. In 2008, Toyobo launched development of backsheet materials for photovoltaic modules using the GS Catalyst. "Fluorine films were being used for the backsheets, and we received information that the deliveries were often late. So we decided to develop low-priced, environmentally friendly sheets using easily obtained materials." - Films Development Department General Manager Chikao Morishige
It took two years to complete the development of the SHINEBEAM® hydrolysis resistant polyester film. SHINEBEAM® is not only heavy metal free, that is, environmentally friendly, but also has superior durability against moisture and heat attack, so it can also extend the working lives of photovoltaic power generation systems when it is used as a backsheet material.
SHINEBEAM® received preliminary heat resistance certification from the U.S. safety certification body Underwriters Laboratories Inc. in May 2010. "We plan on full-scale sales efforts targeting converters and other customers with a view to the global market, after final certification." - Films Development Department Manager Shinji Sawasaki
Industrial Films Operating Department General manager Toshitake Suzuki recalls the product development process. “SHINEBEAM® was developed by combining together the Toyobo Group's technological capabilities in such areas as catalysts and sheet development. I think we were able to complete the product development in such a short period of time because employees cooperated across division boundaries. Society will now seek ways to realize more efficient energy usage, including the use of smart grids, and we intend to contribute to expanded renewable energy supply though SHINEBEAM® backsheet materials, which improve the durability of photovoltaic power generation systems. Moreover, as the photovoltaic power generation market is spreading in Asia and throughout the world, we also intend to become active worldwide as a global Toyobo.”
SHINEBEAM® was a Great Success at Film Tech Japan
Toyobo participated in the 1st Film Tech Japan - Highly Functional Film Technology Expo, which was held over three days from April 14 through April 16, 2010 at the Tokyo Big Sight. SHINEBEAM® drew so much attention at the Toyobo booth that there was a shortage of booth staff to provide explanations. Many customers took note of its outstanding durability, and expressed interest in using SHINEBEAM® for outdoor applications. This was a busy and productive exhibition for Toyobo. Corporate customers with strong environmental awareness requested samples.
Explanation of Terms
- Heavy Metals
- Heavy Metals accumulate in the body, so even the intake of minute quantities when repeated, can damage human health. Antinomy is one typical heavy metal. Efforts are advancing toward developing alternative materials.
- Catalysts are compounds added to promote chemical reactions. Catalysts based on antimony, germanium and titanium are used in polyester manufacturing, with antimony-based catalysts most commonly used worldwide.
- Underwriters Laboratories®
- Underwriters Laboratories® (UL) is the best known certification and testing organization in the United States. UL conducts certification testing on all types of electrical and electronics products. SHINEBEAM® has received provisional UL certification for heat resistance and final certification for fire resistance.
- Smart Grids
- Smart grids are next-generation electric power networks which optimize the flows between electric power supply - which includes thermal, nuclear power and other large-scale power generation as well as wind power, solar electricity and other dispersed power generation - and the electric power demand side of households, buildings, etc.