Henkel says its Aquence Co-Cure technology has been selected for use as protection against corrosion and UV-damage in the solar industry. GreenVolts Inc., which provides a complete and fully integrated concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar system, and investor and global strategic partner ABB, a leader in power and automation technologies, are said to be the first to use this process for solar energy equipment.
Henkel worked with GreenVolts and paint and coatings company AkzoNobel to customize a process that layers Henkel’s Aquence autodeposition coatings with a powder topcoat and “co-cures” them in a single oven. This lean paint shop process, which has been used in the automotive industry, now provides solar components with higher-quality finishes, increased durability and ultraviolet protection for 25 years, Henkel says. Additionally, the process reduces environmental impact, since it contains no heavy metals or sludge, and lowers water and energy requirements.
According to Henkel, most solar equipment manufacturers use a hot-dip galvanization process to protect their metal parts. While industry-standard, this process has drawbacks. The high temperatures can introduce stresses in the dipped metal parts, and these stresses and any dimensional distortions can be weak points in a system. Also, the galvanization process leaves a thick layer that can be problematic for complex shapes, especially internal cavities. For example, threaded holes may reduce in size so that bolts do not fit properly. The Aquence process is more precise, and can provide a smoother, higher-quality surface for topcoats and finishes, the company says.