Recycling crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules

Pablo Dias, Hugo Veit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


While photovoltaic modules (or panels) are becoming more popular and have
had a steep increase in the last decades, so has the accumulation of end-of-life
modules. These devices have a limited lifespan of 20 to 30 years and contain both hazardous and valuable materials. In order to retrieve important raw materials, which reduce production costs and environmental impacts, recycling these devices is of utmost importance and needs to be studied, optimized, and encouraged. Crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels (or first-generation technology) represents the majority of the PV market. These panels contain all three material classes: metals, polymers, and ceramics. This chapter discusses the importance of recycling first-generation photovoltaic panels, characterizes their components, evaluates the technical viability of recycling each of these components, and presents recycling routes in order to recover valuable materials such as silver, copper, aluminum, and high-grade silicon. Moreover, the hazardousness potential of first- generation modules is assessed. The recycling routes explored in this chapter involve mechanical, thermo, and hydrometallurgical routes and evaluate different recovery possibilities and their outcomes. Finally, this chapter shows that the trend of waste PV recycling is to have a comprehensive material recovery to reduce processing cost and minimize environmental impact.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmerging photovoltaic materials
Subtitle of host publicationsilicon & beyond
EditorsSantosh K. Kurinec
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Number of pages42
ISBN (Electronic)9781119407690, 9781119407676
ISBN (Print)9781119407546
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Solar panel
  • e-waste
  • crystalline silicon
  • recycling
  • WEEE
  • solar module
  • PV recycling
  • photovoltaic waste

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