Transforming Hazardous Solar Panel Waste into Value Added Materials

The deployment of PV technology has shown a dramatic increase in recent years. The number of newly installed PV panels worldwide was estimated to be 4 M tonnes by the end of 2016 and forecasted to increase to 6.5 M tonnes annually by the end of 2050. Along with the increasing uptake of PV technology, there are serious issues associated with their end-of-life (EoL) treatment. The number of PV panel waste worldwide was forecasted to increase from 220 k tonnes in 2020 to 6 M tonnes annually by the end of 2050, resulting in accumulative panel waste of 79 M tonnes. Further, there is a plethora of PVs in the market that are not meeting market life cycle expectations, accelerating waste generation from what should have been a sustainability initiative. This problem needs urgent attention and solutions must be developed urgently. The project aims to develop an upcycling solution for PV panels EoL. The PV panels will be processed to produce raw materials for construction materials, re-use in new PV panels and source of energy.

Key outcomes
• An innovative high-capacity mechanical separation process to produce glass fines;
• A cost-effective dissolution process for the silicon waver to produce silicon product and fuel precursor;
• Producing construction materials in demonstration trials through advanced manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing for precast applications;
• Establishing the required machinery and develop a plant in Victoria.

Research team
Dr. Massoud Sofi
Prof. Priyan Mendis
Dr. Elisa Lumantarna
Dr. Rick Zhang
Dr. Jude Pethati Mudiyanselage Don