ETU “LETI” College students Develop an Strategy for Recycling Used Photo voltaic Panels

The ETU students “LETI” took part in an innovative project entitled “Recycling and Disposal of Solar Module Components at the End of Their Life Cycle”. The project is carried out jointly with the University of Cadiz (Spain), based on a laboratory for environmental protection technologies and a laboratory for renewable energy sources.

The project aims to increase the non-toxic recycling of photovoltaic elements without waste, while producing polycrystalline silicon of maximum purity using new technologies and complex methods to assess the quality of the resulting product and reduce its environmental impact.

“It is too early to draw any concrete conclusions. The main goal, however, is to identify the most environmentally safe way to separate solar panel components, determine the toxicity of components when disposed of in a landfill using various test approaches, and develop a method for reusing monocrystalline silicon, the most expensive component in solar panels “, Said Irina Vezhenkova, deputy head of the department for technical environmental protection at ETU” LETI “.

Two years have passed since the start of the project, but it is developing rapidly, bringing more and more students together in a team and expanding the field of research.

“In the past two years we have participated in the startup development program and in numerous competitions – from Perm to Rio de Janeiro. This helped us determine the main direction of research. We didn’t win an award everywhere, but at every event we could hear the experts’ opinions about our development. The product we are developing is unparalleled. And it is precisely the area of ​​environmental friendliness of alternative energy sources at the time of their disposal that has been little studied both in Russia and abroad ”, explained Maria Stepanova, doctoral student at the Department of Engineering Environmental Protection at ETU“ LETI ”.

Today students do research in three areas. Together with the Department of Environmental Technologies at the University of Cadiz and SolarProject, they are analyzing methods for separating solar module components that have lost their properties using the SimaPro software. The second direction is to determine the level of toxicity of components of used solar panels. Under the guidance of Irina Vezhenkova, the students develop methods and tools for the industrial recycling of photovoltaic components with the extraction of PV silicon while reducing environmental risks.

In November 2019, the ETU students “LETI” took third place in the finals of the Russian innovation project accelerator competition “Big Exploration 2019”. A jury of experts made up of representatives from leading companies and the country’s investment community very much appreciated your project.

In October 2019 the project received a grant from the Verinsur landfill (Cadiz, Spain) and in December 2019 it was named the University of Cadiz’s best international environmental project in 2019.

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