Poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) (EVA) has been the dominating material in the photovoltaic (PV) encapsulant market for decades, owing to its superior cost-performance balance. To achieve its desired material properties, EVA undergoes a curing reaction during the module encapsulation process. The resulting EVA gel content after encapsulation is an important criterion for the module encapsulation quality control. Normally, the determination of gel content is achieved using a tedious solvent extraction method. In this paper, a fast and nondestructive detection method on the EVA gel content based on the optical reflection is explored. First, the homogeneity of the EVA gel content distribution after the standard EVA encapsulation process is studied. Then, the feasibility of the proposed optical approach applied to transparent modules is investigated. After that, a method is developed to apply it to opaque modules by incorporating a mirror into the module construction. It was found that the haze factor of the reflected light correlates well with the EVA gel content in the opaque modules. This proof-of-concept work could lead to the development of a fast and nondestructive tool for detecting the EVA gel content in both transparent and opaque PV modules, which is promising for integration as an inline diagnostic tool in the module manufacturing line.
IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, vol. 5 (3), p. 759-765