Full Recovery End Life Photovoltaic

Technical Progress – september 2015

September 2015

The test phase was completed in July 2015 and at the beginning of October the progress report will be presented to the European Commission.

On September 25, 2015 was held at the Laghetto Gabella of Curino a seminar to present the progress of the project. At this link you can download the conference presentations and see some photos of the day.

The initial phases of the project were as follows:

I-    Posting mechanical robot of aluminum profiles, connectors, glass and sandwiches (RAC + REV)

II-   Pyrolysis Eva II to recover the silicon metal and other metals (PES)

III-  Leaching acid by filtration to separate the silicon from other metals (ALF)

IV-   Electrolysis IV to recover copper and silver and neutralization treatment of acid water (OME)

At the end of the trial, because of the presence of fluorinated plastic in the sandwich, it had to abandon the pyrolysis process, which would have resulted in emissions of fluorine with the fuels cracking, and it is opted for the incineration of the sandwich, to be performed at a external company that has already given an initial availability of maximum (Phase TES).

In practice, the results of the experiment possible to confirm the validity of the initial project, with the only variant of incineration instead of pyrolysis.

They have already been pre-built prototypes of some components of Phase I, and now, on the basis of the overall results obtained in the trial, would like to start the realization of the complete project, for which the use of acquiring:

  • the waste code for the conferment of the panels;
  • the code for the treatment of residues of the bottom of the treatment of waste to energy;
  • the authorization to the construction of the pilot plant, and in particular of phases III and IV, as for phase I is of purely mechanical treatments, while the phase III is an operation to make the outside.

The ultimate impact expected from this project is shown schematically in the following mass flow:

FRELP MASS FLOW (15.09.15)

and can be thus summarized:

every 1.000 kg of input panels are obtained:

–          180 kg of aluminum metal to sell on the market;

–          10 kg of connectors to give the WEEE;

–          700 kg of white glass of high quality for sale on the market;

–          36,5 kg of silicon metal to be recovered by filtration after leaching and for sale in the metallurgical sector;

–          1,67 kg of copper and silver recovered at cathodes electrolysis and for sale on the market;

–          120 kg of calcium nitrate in aqueous solution to the silo to be used as fertilizer in agriculture;

The total yield of these components is 93% and the loss is represented by 6% from plastics intended for combustion and residual recovered metals as hydroxides.

By contrast, we have the following environmental impact:

  • 20 kg: production of hydroxides of various metals (tin, aluminum, lead, zinc) to be disposed of in landfill as waste;
  • 2 kg: NOx emissions to the anode of the electrolysis (to be verified);
  • 5 kg: production (at the waste to energy plant) of ash resulting from the reduction in special fluorine with sodium bicarbonate and/or calcium carbonate, at the waste to energy plant (to be verified).

It must be said that there is currently no industrial technology that allows to achieve a yield of 93% and that the problem of disposing of the photovoltaic panels will have a major impact as early as 2017.

The pilot plant which is planned will have the processing capacity of 1 t/hour of photovoltaic panels to a maximum of 8.000 t/year.

According to forecasts in the draft, submitted for approval to the Province of Biella the 29th September 2015, the plant should be active from 2017.

Technical Progress – may 2015

May 2015

Completion, at the Stazione dei Combustibili, of the emission tests relating to the pyrolysis and combustion of the sandwich of EVA (action 4). Preliminary data confirm the presence of fluoride so important, which precludes the use of pyrolysis and thus lead to the forced choice of incineration. We will receive the full report by mid-June and will enter as a supplement to deliverable “B4”.

It was contacted a company that works in the field of incineration of waste, with a furnace large enough for our purpose, and that is available to do two campaigns per year of incineration on providing our sandwiches, so that they can return to us the residual ash for subsequent treatment of leaching and electrolysis to be carried out in Sasil. For the transfer from the incinerator of Sasil sandwiches we have already identified the code, and we are evaluating the return code to Sasil according to the final report of the Stazione dei Combustibili.

We are completing the preparation of about 10 kg of ash from sandwiches to provide the company “Darsa”, that will handle the supply of the electrolysis, to make additional checks on the characteristics of the recovered metals and the quality of the eluates to be treated to recover the hydroxides and calcium nitrate. The preparation consists in reducing the sandwich powder oxidized with sizes less than 100 microns, such as to permit efficient acid attack. Darsa will, depending on the needs of electrolysis, to look for the right conditions of acid attack, simulating as closely as possible to the scheme of flow developed by Sasil.

Technical progress – February 2015

February 2015


With reference to the information contained in the report of November 2014, there are two important changes: the first one refers to an alternative to the expected pyrolysis process (action B4) and the second one to the methodology applied for electrolysis (action B5).


Action B4 – Why the alternative to the expected pyrolysis process

In the control phase of the emissions of gases from the pyrolysis of the sandwich it has been noted the presence of traces of fluoride. Although the first analysis of the backsheet had not shown these values, more accurate tests have established that about 50% of the panels include a microlayer of fluorinated plastic. Given that the Sasil’s pyrolysis equipment is not authorized for the treatment of fluorinated plastics, we have considered an alternative process to incinerate the sandwich, as the treatment of the fumes generated by the combustion is much simpler and does not imply unknown technological processes. It is a widespread process and normally it is applied downstream of the incineration plant. Moreover,a lower consumption of nitric acid in the process of leaching related to to the incineration combustion was found. Therefore it was decided to investigate this incineration process considering the possibility to treat all the sandwiches, regardless of whether or not they contain fluorinated plastic.


Even though this choice can represent a disadvantage if considered in terms of energy efficiency only, still it must be taken into account that the incineration of combustion, unlike the pyrolysis, allows to treat 100% of the panels, and not only those without fluorinated plastics, thus avoiding to send to landfill 50% of previously treated sandwich. Furthermore, the incineration from combustion allows a considerable saving of HNO3 (25%). Also we have considered the option of treating the sandwiches of fluorinated plastic with a technology patented by a company of Novara, but we have estimated that the industrialization of such a system is very complex and it also has to do with solvents which, however, have a certain environmental impact.

In conclusion, we are researching an industrial incinerator capable of ensuring this intermediate step, between detachment of sandwich (Action B3) and the successive steps of leaching and electrolysis (action B5), and thus replacing the pyrolysis (action B4). In terms of environmental impact, the disadvantage of having to transfer on the outward (by the SASIL establishment to the incinerator) about 770 t / year of sandwich, and in return (by the incinerator to the SASIL establishment) about 300 t / year of ashes, it is compensated by the lower use of nitric acid and the consequent lower consumption of calcium hydroxide, with relative lower production of calcium nitrate in solution. This alternative to pyrolysis involves a modification of the development program of the FRELP project that, at this stage, will not include any longer the adaptation and use of the existing Sasil pyrolysis plant when performing B4 action. But it will have to rely on an external incinerator to reduce to ashes the sandwich by heat treatment.

Optimization process of chemical recovery: characterization of the ashes before leaching.

After the thermal cracking, the ashes are separated by sieving with a mesh sieve (ASTM 3 mm). Subsequently, the small pieces of metal, probably coming from the disintegration of the metal grid during thermal cracking, are carefully removed by hand. This represents about 30% of weight of ash, with respect to the initial weight of the plastic sheet, after the detachment of the glass. The obtained material is shown below:

Caratterizzazione delle ceneri prima della lisciviazione


In December 2014 and January 2015 the experiments carried out by Darsa with samples of ash resulting from the pyrolysis in laboratory have allowed to get closer to the completion of the last stage of the recovery process for the electrolysis of metals, particularly silver and copper. From these experiences it emerges that the process has a high recovery yield, close to 95%, but requires constant power conditions in order to calibrate the control parameters of the electrolysis. In particular it is necessary, in the acid solution, to minimize the presence of free nitric acid, and to act with additions of silver, copper, aluminum and various metals fairly constant. We will have to intensify such tests on significant quantities of ashes (few kg), in order to mediate the presence of metals and thus obtaining a calibration of electrolysis aimed at constant recoveries and efficiencies that will lead to an enhancement of the functional selectivity. In order to minimize the use of nitric acid for leaching, we have also considered the use of a concentrator to fractional distillation before the electrolysis phase. The solution of this problem with electrolysis in function of leaching, for the recovery of copper and silver, will be the subject of further investigation in the next three months, jointly by Sasil and SSV for what refers to leaching, and by Darsa for electrolysis.


Description of the pilot test in Darsa

The goal of the pilot test was to find the best condition for the collection of silver from the solution of nitric acid for galvanic deposition, performed with the Electro-winning DEW M 100 that works with a constant value of Ampere and with various concentrations and pH of the solution.

Apparecchiatura per test pilota

A – solution of nitric acid | B – Electro-winning system | C – Carbon Cathode | D – Recovery of silver



Next steps

It is expected to conclude the last tests of electrolysis at Darsa by April. Meanwhile, in order to obtain a precise comparison between the various options that allow a final decision on the most suitable strategy, several LCA about technically feasible scenarios will be prepared. Subsequently we should proceed to the submission of a project amendment (in May), so that it can be completed by the presentation of the mid-term report expected by the end of July.




Technical progress – November 2014

November 2014


This report summarizes the actions B1-B2-B3-B4-B5-B6-B7, and C1-C2-D1-D2 that have been developed over the period considered.

With reference to the following description, are explained some definitions used in the text of the report:

BACKSHEET: the photovoltaic panel behind the surface exposed to the sun and consists of plastic material in polyester or chlorinated or fluorinated compounds.

SANDWICH: is the set of glass + backsheet + eva + wafer of silicon metal.

SILICON WAFER: is the heart of the photovoltaic panel that converts sunlight into electricity.

PLOT: series of connectors generally in aluminum that connect the various wafers to bring the generated current to the connector of the panel.

WARP: number of connections perpendicular to the plot, on the surface of the wafer exposed to the sun, which generally consist of a glass frit containing silver.

IM: unexpected

OB: objectives

RA: expected results

IP: progress indicators


Action B1

It’s the action carried out by the partner PV CYCLE who oversaw the procurement of samples of panels used for the characterization of the same and for testing the process in subsequent actions.

IM/1: due to the variability of the panels characterized by PV Cycle will get an additional sample to have more data for the comparison.

OB/1: procure the panels at the beginning and then the sample panels for tests on prototypes developed during the project.

RA/1: to provide 20 panels 1 x 1,67 m sufficiently diversified to have average data of composition to be used in the actions B2-B3-B4-B5.

IP/1: supply of panels for characterization took place October 15, 2013 and for testing expected by December 2015.

Action B2

The action was developed by SSV and consisted of the complete characterization of the sample panels received by PV CYCLE.

Based on these results, Sasil began the work of development of various process technologies provided by the project.

IM/2: the quality of the panels is variable depending in particular on the quality of the backsheet, which may contain chlorinated and fluorinated plastics that require a different approach in the pyrolysis phase.

OB/2: fully characterize the various panels and in particular to determine the metals present in the wafer to modulate the actions of acid attack and pyrolysis.

RA/2: provide useful indications on the most suitable technology for the recovery of the various components that constitute the photovoltaic panel.

IP/2: the close cooperation between Sasil and SSV has allowed a remarkable synergy that has allowed to proceed according to the flow chart provided by the project and to have immediately useful results to Sasil to optimize the subsequent actions of its competence.

Action B3

The problem of the separation of the glass from the sandwich was solved brilliantly by Sasil with a method that has been the subject of patent application filed in September 2014. This system plans to remove the glass from the sandwich in a qualitative way with a progression of 1 cm per second.

The pre-prototype is able to process strips of the panel (obviously devoid of aluminum profiles and the connector) of the width of 250 mm, equal to ¼ of the total width of the panel.

It has been tested and is still being optimized, in particular in relation to the quality of the backsheet, the variability of which required an additional modulation on the positioning of the source of infrared, not initially provided by the patent.

It is during the optimization phase, the system for continuous bonding of the panels, prior to insertion in the detachment device, so as to give continuity to the system.

The final prototype will be sized to handle continuously about 22 panels/hour, the standard size of 1000 x 1660 mm.

The heat treatment preliminary to the detachment was made with a mixed system for medium and short wave infrared, assisted by a maintenance phase with diathermic oil.

The separation occurs by means of a device with a high frequency knife button and modulated in amplitude and speed.

On the glass recovered in the millimeter size was noted at times the presence of the organic black parts, due to the adhesion to the glass of the seals on the edge of the panel.

Furthermore, on the fine fractions of glass, less than a millimeter, however constituents only 5% of the stemmed glass, has occurred the incidental presence of silicon metal coming from the silicon wafer.

To overcome these two drawbacks, Sasil adopted a unique technology of optical treatment, after a sieving to 1 mm. Practically a channel of optical separator treats the fraction> 1 mm containing organic compounds, and a channel treats separately the fraction <1 mm to remove residual silicon metal from the glass.

IM/3: the greater difficulty involved the search of the optimal thermal system that would allow a temperature differential between “EVA” and glass, flaking, and this was done through a detailed analysis of the behavior in curing of the heated EVA, so as to ensure a margin of work sufficiently wide to allow the detachment at temperatures close to the temperature of crosslinking without reaching the same cross-linking.

This work was developed brilliantly by SSV.

The choice of infrared system was made after evaluating the option laser and microwave, with the advice of CNA respectively of Sesto Fiorentino and of the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

RA/3: the solution of the pre-prototype, including the section of optical separation, allowed to remove any unknown for the actual design of the prototype that is in an advanced stage of selection.


– Achievement of 97% of recovery of pure glass;

– Power consumption less than 50 kWh/t of the panel;

– Excellent level of homogeneity and particle size of the recovered glass;

– Very low level of emissions on warming phase and within the limits of the law; in any case, such emissions test will be repeated once developed the system of heat sealing of the panels prior to insertion into the car behind.

– Prototype in definitive design phase according to the operational directions of the pre-prototype.

Action B4

This action has been carried out by Sasil and SSV according to a similar pattern, ie with pyrolysis treatment in batches, but with use of different gases (argon for SSV, nitrogen for SASIL).

The temperature conditions were the same even if it is seen that, according to analysis thermo-ponderal, already at 450 °C all organic compounds pyrolise completely.

As it was not possible to do is to obtain significant results on the quality of fuels obtained as the instrumentation provided for the analysis will be available at the SSV only in January 2015. In any case, the pyrolysis has provided the ashes sufficient, from the point of view of quality and quantity, for the subsequent acid etching process, object of the action 5.

Before the process of acid leaching (Action B5) the ashes were milled and screened under 0,5 mm obtaining residue subgrid free from metal particles, and a overscreen consisting predominantly of particles of aluminum and other metal conductors.

In fact, the advantage of this process is to break the silicon metal, which is very fragile, and leave intact the metals, which are elastic and with a particular grinding technique for compression tend to flatten and not to break, thereby enhancing their recovery by sieving .

With regard to the analysis of plastics from pyrolyze (polyester, Tedlar, PVC) as constituents of the backsheet, the data so far available on the 20 types of panels have provided a frequency of about 30% of fluorinated plastic and/or chlorinated on the total of panels examined.

This is an aspect that should be investigated further as it will be a decision about the treatment of the panels with the presence of chlorinated or fluorinated plastic as you can choose two options:

A- treat the sandwich before the pyrolysis, with a technology patented by an Italian company who has already made some tests with positive results with the goal of separating the organic solvent in the autoclave, the backsheet from the rest of the sandwich, so sent for disposal fluorinated or chlorinated plastics. This is to avoid sending in pyrolysis chlorine and/or fluorine (note that the weight of the backsheet accounts for only 1,5% of the total weight of the panel).

B- Studying, downstream of the pyrolysis, a system that inerted the fluorinated and/or chlorinated compounds that are generated in phase induced heating, in order to knock them down as fly ash, with a scrubbing at the end of the process of condensation of the fuel generated by the process of thermal cracking in an inert environment.

RA/4: from laboratory tests showed that the pyrolysis at 600°C is able to completely demolish the organic compounds present in the sandwich and not to produce carbon residues on the residual ashes, formed only from silicon metal, glass and metals. Therefore are evaluating the most effective system for use in the discontinuous pyrolyzer present in Sasil, and that choice will be made in March 2015 based on the results of the analysis that will SSV fuels recovered from pyrolysis.

IP/4: the quality of the residual ash has already been judged as optimal as a function of the subsequent step of acid attack hot and electrolysis.

Action B5

This action has been divided into two sections:

– section of acid attack;

– electrolysis section.

The acid etching was conducted with different modes and different topologies of acids and bases but in the end the best results are obtained with nitric acid.

This choice was carefully evaluated also in function of the environmental impact because of the main drawback of this technology is that, however, we must eventually neutralize a residual acid polluted in part by metals.

However we have already achieved an environmentally sustainable because, by means of the killing with calcium hydroxide, is possible to obtain a calcium nitrate that, for the low content of residual metals may still be used in agriculture as a nitrogen fertilizer.

In any case, this aspect is still being in analytic investigation phase because the electrolysis process that generates acid residues to be salified is still under development and will be completely defined by the month of March 2015. Thus, even the environment appearance will be further investigated.

RA/5: through a first acid leaching is possible to obtain a good quality of metal silicon as residue of acid solubilization of ashes. This quality can be further improved through a basic attack with KOH that dissolves any residue from the oxidation of silicon.

The final choice of whether or not this additional operation depends on the market value of more or less pure silicon and this market survey is being developed on the basis of samples significant that we are producing with experimental tests on large quantities.

IP/5: indicators for the quantity and quality of silicon recovered from the leaching of metals recovered by electrolysis and fertilizer from salification acid residues were positive both in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact, and value of the end products .

An important issue that we have yet to investigate is the recovery of the residual glass present together with the metal silicon as filtered of the acid and alkaline attack, or acid attack alone, for which we are still evaluating gravimetric, centrifugal and chemical-physical systems.

In conclusion:

– the recovery of the metal silicon is total (no problems of oxidation to SiO2);

– the silver recovery is total at the cathode of the electrolysis;

– the recovery of lead and copper is total at the cathode together with the silver;

– the recovery of aluminum is partial to the cathode because a part remains in solution and is then salified with calcium hydroxide but without incompatibility problems as fertilizer.

Since at the cathode of spongy graphite will be present different metals in minor amounts compared to silver, it will do so to orient the electrolysis in a way as to leave in solution those metals which do not give problems in the residual nitrate salts, and to retain at the cathode the heavy metals which may still be selectively removed by melting at different temperatures in the final process of recovery of the metals contained in the spongy cathode of graphite.

Action B6

The design of the robot system for the separation of aluminum profiles and the connector is already well under way and does not reserve any problems because it uses standard robots, adapted to the particular function required.

Action B7

The design of the prototype for the system of separation of the glass from the sandwich is in an advanced planning stage, based on the experience made on the pre-prototype already in operation for months.

The only problem yet to be determined is the bonding system of the panels once released from aluminum and the connector, to insert in the apparatus of detachment of glass from EVA which needs continuity of operation.

At first it seemed that the simple drawing of a tape on the two edges of the sandwich (backsheet side) was enough but then it is seen that, in phase of continuity of the process, the heat reached of the backsheet causes the detachment of the junction in the point dedicated to the inclusion in the apparatus of detachment at knife button.

It’s already found alternative means of a heat sealing tape itself but we are evaluating with a producer of backsheet the material type best suited to speed the operation automatically and avoid delays in the ongoing process, which would lead to discontinuities in the production of sandwich to start at pyrolysis.

Action C1

The monitoring of the environmental impact is constantly followed by both Sasil that SSV and is based on that monitoring that we make the design decisions to be taken in the development of the prototypes that need to perform the functions required of the various actions.

Action C2

The LCA study is done jointly by SSV and SASIL with free advice of ISPRA, Research Institute for Environmental Protection, which, being very interested in the development of this project, entered it as a reference project among the various options with the recovery of photovoltaics.

A first draft of the environmental impact assessment has already been completed on the basis of the results from the various actions carried out so far and, by January 2015, will be updated in line with subsequent tests to be carried out.

Action D1

As regards the general Dissemination, SSV has prepared a mailing list to send the newsletter (at the time, one for the month of June and one for October).

With regard to international conferences, this year there have been two important conferences simultaneously on 23 September to which Sasil and SSV participated by presenting the project FRELP:

Both have attracted much interest because, in the recovery of the panels with silicon technology, there are currently no active treatment processes at industrial level; also at the level of research is still in the recovery phase little selective for the enhancement of the individual components.

Action D2

SASIL has prepared a NOTICE BOARD with the description of the project (objectives, actions and results) and a TECHNICAL SCHEME precisely with the outline of the project.

SASIL also updated regularly on his website a special page devoted to the project FRELP ( and preparing two sections: one dedicated to the technical advances of the project and one to download newsletters, press releases and presentations of the conference.

In order to come to meet the request of the Commission to improve the site and given the technical limitations of its current location by the end of the year will be built a website specifically dedicated only to the FRELP project, made over to the SASIL website that enclosed already updates and sections of FRELP.

Technical progress – October 2014

FRELP: progress in October 2014

The four steps of the plan of development, the situation is as follows:


In September it was tested in continuous the prototype for detachment, trying to optimize performance.

There are some problems in the gluing system of the panels head to head because, in transit in the high temperature area, before the detachment of the glass from the sandwich, we had some problem of loosening of the joint due to the fact that the adhesive is very sensitive to temperature changes, and therefore, when the temperature rises beyond a certain limit, the disconnect occurs.

Let adhesives that are resistant to conditions of temperature higher than the operating temperature in order to have a certain margin of safety and to avoid problems in the continuity of the process of detachment.


Have been performed various tests on pyrolysis on centimeter portions of sandwiches to mediate the quantitative results of residual ashes on which we made of the chemical analyzes.

Have been analyzed different types of ashes of pyrolysis and the results of the chemical analyzes are quite variable, in particular depending on the presence of silver that is present in an amount ranging from 0,05% to 0,15% with respect to the total weight of entire panel.

Even the other metal components have a high variability according to the type of the panel and, for the same panel, depending on the portions of the wafer.

We have finalized the study of the ashes and in particular to the recovery of silver and copper, which are the elements to be recovered by electrolysis after dissolving in acid leaching through.

For aluminum, it is seen that, by milling and subsequent sieving thrust of the ash, it is possible to recover most of the aluminum as a residual overscreen.


In September it was also tested the process of acid leaching with different acids and mixtures of acids.

After numerous tests based on sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid and various mixtures of the same, considering the environmental problems relating to different dangerousness of the same, it was decided, also in function of the encouraging early results, to focus primarily on leaching with hot nitric acid.

Therefore we will proceed in this direction also in function of the subsequent stage of electrolysis, which will be object of study in the month of November and December when we have established the most suitable dilution ratios of the acid solution to be used for the selective electrolysis at different potentials.


September 23 took place simultaneously two conventions to which Sasil and SSV participated by presenting the project FRELP:

• 29th Conference on Solar Energy and Photovoltaic (EU PVSEC 2014) in Amsterdam in the “PV life cycle management & recycling”;

• 12th ESG (European Society of Glass) Conference, in Parma.

Both have attracted much interest because, in the recovery of the panels with silicon technology, there are currently no active treatment processes at industrial level; also at the level of research is still in the recovery phase little selective for the enhancement of the individual components.

Technical progress – June 2014

June 2014

FRELP: progress in June 2014

The four steps of the plan of development, the situation is as follows:

1st step Detachment of aluminum profiles and connector (ACTION B3)

This action has been fully resolved at the design level with the help of a robotics company that has already provided to the study of the components and has already budgeted also a possible industrialization of the process.

We have already contacted the other two manufacturers to have some alternative offers before to start comparative assessments and then proceed with the order.

The dimensioning of the system was made on the basis of the dismantling of about 45 panels/hour, corresponding to a weight of 1000 kg/hour, and such as to allow a power supply to the next step on the basis of a feed rate of about 2 cm/second.

2nd step Detachment of glass by sandwich (ACTION B3)

This action, which was the crux of the whole project, is now settled in brilliantly through the creation of a pre-prototype capable of handling a range of panels equal to 25% of that provided in the pilot plant.

After a month of testing, changes, implementations, technological innovations, practice tests, has now reached a level of reliability that allows us to confirm that the correct choice of the pre-prototype design object.

In June, it was also proven automation, which still needs fine-tuning, especially in relation to the variability of the panels to be treated, because, for the moment, we are limited to three types of the 18 considered by SSV phase characterization.

In any case we will also dedicate the month of July to complete the tests on all types available in order to evaluate each type of variable to which you may suffer.

In summary, the technology used is based on three innovations:

1 – Heating differentiated on the two sides of the sandwich (glass side and side wafer) with three different heating devices which ensure a delta of 20-30 degrees in temperature between the glass side and the side of the wafer. This delta is essential to ensure a perfect separation of the glass from the surface of EVA in contact with the glass itself.

2 – Mechanical Detachment of the glass by means of a pulsating knife, leveled at a fixed distance from the intrados side of the glass, result of an experiment on the field, which has allowed to minimize the effort of dragging of the panel and to maintain a perfect alignment of the detachment line with tolerances on the order of 0,1 mm. Both the oscillation that the amplitude of the pulsating movement are adjustable in an automatic way, depending on the characteristics of the panel.

3 – Complete automation of the progress of the panel as a function of 5 parameters:

  • frequency of the pulsations of the knife;
  • temperature in the transport section;
  • temperature in the cutting section;
  • thickness of the glass;
  • typology of the backsheet.

Based on a few hours of steady state operation it can be said that the specific total energy used throughout the separation phase is well below the 100 kWh/t, provided as an objective in the presentation of the project.

In July, we will test the prototype also the gluing device in continuous of the panels to be treated, in order to evaluate also any problems due to the discontinuity in the longitudinal phase of contact with the pulsating knife.

3rd step Pyrolysis (ACTION B4)

There have been several tests of pyrolysis, for now in ambient not inertized with nitrogen to problems of delay in delivery of the equipment.

This, however, has served to complement the quantitative and qualitative data on the size of the silicon wafer, and this has already allowed you to change almost on a final mass flow.

It was also verified the ease of extracting, by simple sieving, after the pyrolysis, the strings of aluminum, inside of the ashes of pyrolysis, maintain dimensions significantly larger than the rest of the ashes.

The B3 action on the pyrolysis, whose term was scheduled to end in June 2014, will be completed by September, 2014, due to the delay in the receipt of laboratory equipment and the delay in obtaining the silicon wafer recovered through the operation of the pre-prototype.

4th step Leaching, Nanofiltration, Pyrolysis (ACTION B5)

The leaching has been studied only in the context of the possible reactive in particular on the need to send anything but the silicon in solution, and not to affect the nano silver particles which should be removed for nanofiltration before or after electrolysis. The type of electrolysis will be chosen based on the results of the nanofiltration.

These experiments will be the subject of thorough investigations and laboratory tests in the coming months. The action B5 will be completed by September 2014.


The project, passed the hurdle of detachment of the glass from sandwich, proceeds according to the programs, with a delay of three months on the actions B4 and B5.

Currently there aren’t obstacles in the way of good continuation.

Technical progress – May 2014

May 2014

FRELP: progress in May 2014

Methodology of detachment EVA GLASS

During the month of May has solved the most important problem related to the detachment of the glass of the photovoltaic panel from the “sandwich” EVA + silicon.

As anticipated in April, through the prototype developed by Sasil, several options have been tested, both from the point of view of the heat treatment, which, under the appearance of the actual posting.

At the end is a good result was achieved with the use of three systems of preliminary heating and two technical solutions for the phase of final separation of the glass.

The purpose of separating the pure glass was obtained with the use of total energy less than 100 kWh/t.


You will need to optimize the system by the end of June 2014 in order to collect all the data for the final design of the pilot plant will be sized as expected for a flow rate of 1 t/h, and processed for whole panels 1 meter long.

For now the prototype is able to work on strips of panel of 250 mm and have already been obtained significant samples of glass and of “sandwich”. The glass has already been further purified with a separator with excellent optical results.


The “sandwich” destined to pyrolysis has been chopped into small pieces of centimetric size and tested in pyrolysis at the laboratory Sasil, with the current equipment, which, however, proved to be not entirely suitable.

We decided to purchase new laboratory equipment for testing of pyrolysis, suitable to process the “sandwich” in nitrogen atmosphere and with appropriate measuring instruments to control the outflows.

In any case, by preliminary tests were obtained significant information on the procedures pyrolysis suitable in this particular type of pyrolysis expected in discontinuous and in space inertized with nitrogen.


Were made attemps to solubilize the ashes of pyrolysis but due to lack of adequate standard elements to be searched, we postponed further such tests, when we have the appropriate standard.

Technical progress – April 2014

April 2014

FRELP: progress at the end of APRIL 2014

In particular, we dealt with thoroughly investigate the following systems:

a- heating different test with infrared of panel EVA + GLASS;

b- EVA detachment from the glass after heat treatment;

c- separation optical glass polluted by contact seals in the glass / aluminum;

d- recognition of the composition of the backsheet as a function of pyrolysis behavior;

e- mode-gripping of the panels with suckers;

f- mode cutting of aluminum profiles;

g- mode breakout of aluminum profiles once cut corners.


Below we describe briefly how it’s operated:

a1- were tested three types of infrared, shortwave, medium, long. The solution will be the combination of these three sources of infrared as each has characteristics that are functional to the four important parameters for the preliminary heat treatment of the EVA detachment from the glass:

– Rapid heating;

– Heating differentiation between EVA and glass;

– Maintaining the temperature at the time of posting;

– Speed ​​of temperature regulation.

It is expected to complete the test of detachment within the month of June.


b1-Preliminary tests of detachment with four technologies:

– Detachment with fixed knife;

– Detachment with high-pressure water;

– Detachment at high pressure air;

– Separation tape with water-cooled.


c1- Optical separation of the glass recovered from the edges and polluted by rubber (gasket).

Tested the optical separation on the particle size of 5 mm.

Evidence of screening and crushing of the glass.


d1- It was identified with a tool pointing to distance for the recognition of the plastic as in the pyrolysis step is necessary to separate any plastics containing chlorine type pvc.


e1- Were tested different ways of taking on the “backsheet” in order to maneuver the panel according to the following phases of tearing of aluminum profiles and the connector. There are no particular problems.


f1- They tested two techniques:

– Cutting with a circular saw;

– Cutting with abrasive disc.

The best results for now are with circular saw, but it is expected to structure the system so you can make the interchangeable cutting devices, in order to adapt to any changes in the composition of the outer profiles of the panels.


g1- Were performed positively evidence of tearing of the outer profiles of aluminum, after the preliminary cutting of the edges, so as to have separated the four profiles, two short sides and two long sides.


Almost all systems have now been defined and partially made ​​of pre-reduced scale prototypes that have allowed to test the solutions provided.

The technology that has not yet been completely defined is that of point “b” as within the month of May will be ready for the pre-prototype that will test the two technologies, compressed air and high pressure water, including we will choose the most suitable practical application in the prototype.

The prototypes that have to perform CDEFG-phases have been identified, designed and evaluated.

The prototypes that need to perform the steps ab are in pre-prototype to be tested by the end of May and approved by the end of June.

The main difficulties, as expected, related to the phase b, but the preliminary results indicate that we have the solution handy.