Solar panels, which are a sustainable energy source, are made with toxic materials like cadmium that can’t be easily recycled. But now, a California-based solar company named BioSolar developed a new type of panel which is made from a material obtained from cotton and castor beans.
The material, named BioSolar Backsheet, is said to be non-toxic and more durable than petroleum-based material.
Usually the top layer of the solar cell is made of glass and non bio-based polymers. The new backsheet is made of a transparent bio-based composite. The tough cellulose fibers produced by cotton and resin are used to create a polyamide that is similar to nylon. The end result is a toxic-free material that has a high thermal conductivity. Moreover, this feature promises long-lasting solar panels.
Though the manufacturers say it is non-toxic, there are still issues regarding the presence of castor beans in the material. Generally, they are toxic to humans and cause severe allergic reaction during processing.
But castor beans are said to be an environmentally-friendly alternative to petroleum, so a few researchers are now working on developing less toxic castor beans.
This low cost bio-based solar backsheet has won a USDA BioPreferred Certification and is now available commercially.