New materials and designs for photovoltaic modules providing low-cost energy

The DuraMAT—or Durable Module Materials—Consortium brings together the national lab and university research infrastructure with the photovoltaic (PV) and supply-chain industries for a grand goal: to discover, develop, de-risk, and enable the commercialization of new materials and designs for PV modules—with the potential for a levelized cost of electricity of less than 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

We envision doubling the rate at which companies can implement new materials in PV modules by coupling an Energy Materials Network architecture with PV durability science and state-of-the-art analysis. This means the interaction of rapid discovery, characterization, and testing; theory, modeling, and simulation; and data management and mining, with rapid durability testing, degradation mechanism identification, and lifetime prediction.

Our research strategy integrates the following capability areas in an innovation engine that accelerates material development, ensures industry engagement, and meets the long- and short-term module materials research needs of the PV industry.

  • Data Management and Analytics
  • Predictive Simulation
  • Materials Forensics and Characterization
  • Module Testing
  • Field Deployment
  • Techno-Economic Analysis

DuraMAT Capabilities Network

DuraMAT provides a suite of easily accessible capabilities to facilitate applied R&D. Equally important, we understand the technical issues that you need to address and can help you develop a team using these capabilities to come up with solutions.

Data Management and Analytics
Capability Leader: Anubhav Jain, LBL,

Module material durability studies are an ideal platform to demonstrate the power of materials informatics. Data management and analytics form the backbone of the consortium. The data hub will integrate accessibility to historic data, new computationally derived data, and new experimental data generated across the primary technical areas. Data analytics will focus on multivariable correlations to understand complex reliability issues—from large sets of time-series and discrete experimental data, along with computation data, and field testing.

Predictive Simulation
Capability Leader - Mark van Benthem, Sandia,

A suite of modeling and simulation tools, model workflows, and a community of experts who work in concert with experiments and data analytics across length and time scales. This capability will be informed by Data Analytics, validated by Materials Forensics and Module Testing, and used to develop design rules for Materials Discovery. Organized into four key work areas: PV systems/stressors, manufacturing stressors/excursions, PV packaging materials, and material defects.

Materials Forensics and Characterization
Capability Leader: Mike Toney, SLAC,

Uses rapidly evolving Materials Genome Initiative (MGI)-based tools including: high-throughput computational materials design, combinatorial synthesis and fabrication, high-throughput materials characterization and forensics, and advanced manufacturing for prototyping to develop new functional materials to achieve DuraMAT goals.

  • Combinatorial Synthesis and Coating
  • Operando Characterization
  • Materials Forensics

Module Testing
Capability Leader: Peter Hacke, NREL,

Prototypes and tests new materials components, mini-module prototypes, and full-size modules for durability using novel simultaneous, combinatorial accelerated stress testing. We will advance combinatorial stress tests that examine PV module durability more quickly, reliably, and with fewer samples to accelerate the development of truly field-relevant accelerated tests. Module durability testing will be tightly coupled to analytical characterization and forensics in the Materials Discovery capability area and Predictive Simulation to help define test protocols and extrapolate results observed in materials and mini-modules to full-size modules and meaningful lifecycle prediction.

  • Module Prototyping. Provide a platform for fabricating and assembling new module materials, components, and module prototypes (mini- and full-size) for durability and low cost, along with approaching PV module durability by design and design-for-manufacturing.
  • Accelerated Stress Testing. Evaluate durability and performance with single-factor, multifactor, and combinatorial accelerated stress testing (C-AST) and advanced rapid or in-situ characterization for evaluating bankability and the commercialization of new PV module materials and form factors.
  • Module-Level Power Electronics Materials Studies and Stress Testing—Contact: Olga Lavrova, Sandia,
    Evaluate PV electronics including micro-inverters, optimizers, and safety devices. Analyze materials interactions leading to degradation and failures in the field or tests with power cycling and application of environment stress factors.

Field Deployment
Capability Leader: Bruce King, Sandia,

Field deployment is a key aspect of confirming the durability of new module materials and module designs. It validates the results of Accelerated Module Testing by confirming the field relevance of degradation mechanisms and acceleration factors. It also includes life-cycle analysis and design for recycling.

  • Component to System Exposure Assessments
  • Module Characterization and Non-Destructive Evaluation
  • End-of-Life and Recyclability

Techno-Economic Analysis
Capability Leader: Mike Woodhouse, NREL,

Identifies research areas that could have the greatest economic and market impact using bottom-up module manufacturing and installation cost models based on calculations of levelized cost of energy and internal rate of return. T2M also assists with academic/lab-industry partnering and technology assessment.

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