Broken solar panels are being turned into valuable raw materials by an American company called Solar Cycle, which are ideal for producing additional solar panels.
The company's innovative recycling technique reduces the amount of copper, aluminum, silver, and silicon recovered from panels to just 2% of their original material weight.
According to a 2016 assessment by the International Renewable Energy Agency, millions of metric tons of decommissioned solar panels will likely be in landfills by the middle of the 2030s if a way isn't discovered to cheaply recycle them.
However, a technique for electrostatically separating waste streams from solar panels fed into substantial machine-grade shredders was discovered by some Australian scientists. When shredding modest quantities of solar arrays, it is profitable and advantageous to remove the metal frame before shredding the solar cells for a sustainable usage.
According to senior author Dr. Pablo Dias, the procedure can use 220,000 pounds (1,000 kg) or around 50,000 solar panels annually.
“This is something someone can pick up elsewhere, it doesn’t use any chemicals, it doesn’t emit any hazardous pollution. It produces dust from crushing the panels, but you have dust collectors there,” Dias told the Guardian.
Dias recently started working with Solar Cycle, which has received funding from players throughout the solar industry, including Sun Power, Solar City, and Closed Loop Partners, to put his technology to use.
“For solar to truly scale to its full potential, we need to create renewable supply chains and a vibrant secondary market for used panels and recycled materials,” Solar Cycle states.
As the sole technology-based recycling company for the solar industry, Solar Cycle recently signed a contract for the end-of-life recycling of solar arrays with Silicon Ranch, a company that runs 145 solar power facilities across the country. Silicon Ranch is Solar Cycle's first utility-scale partner.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to do with all the unwanted items. That's where this company comes in. They take the trash and turn it into treasure. By upcycling waste, they are helping to reduce pollution and create products that can be enjoyed for years to come.
This company is making a difference in the world. By recycling waste, civil society can help reduce pollution and make a positive impact on the environment and on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).