SEOUL -- South Korean researchers will lead a government-initiated project to develop technologies that recover high-purity resources from solar waste panels. When technology is developed, 97 percent of silver and 95 percent of silicon can be recovered and recycled from solar waste panels.
Solar panels are composed of glass, aluminum, plastic, and silver. Currently, the recycling of solar waste panels is complicated and not eco-friendly because raw materials are separated by crushing waste panels, and chemicals or heat treatment are used to increase purity. The state-funded Korea Institute of Ceramic Engineering and Technology (KICET) said that a producer responsibility recycling system would be introduced in 2023, requiring producers to improve existing resource recovery technology and establish eco-friendly recycling systems.
The institute teamed up with Reset, a private company that recycles solar waste panels, to develop technologies by 2024 and recover resources such as silver and silicon in high purity using pulsed laser photoreduction technology and an integrated automation system that separates solar waste panels without damage. Pulsed laser photoreduction technology can extract only desired metal ions present in the solution into nanoparticles through the precise adjustment of laser wavelength.
The institute aims to produce more than 50 kilograms of recycled silicon ingots with a purity of 99.999 percent per day. Reset would develop an automatic separation system that can handle more than 10 tons per day.
Jung Hyun-sung, a KICET professor, said that the institute's eco-friendly technology can be applied to various fields. "We can expect to create a new market through projects linked to local governments through eco-friendly treatment technologies and systems," he said in a statement on May 9.
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