Physical and chemical treatment of end of life panels: An integrated automatic approach viable for different photovoltaic technologies

Francesca Pagnanelli, Emanuela Moscardini, Giuseppe Granata, Thomas Abo Atia, Pietro Altimari, Tomas Havlik, Luigi Toro

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Different kinds of panels (Si-based panels and CdTe panels) were treated according to a common process route made up of two main steps: a physical treatment (triple crushing and thermal treatment) and a chemical treatment. After triple crushing three fractions were obtained: an intermediate fraction (0.4–1 mm) of directly recoverable glass (17%w/w); a coarse fraction (>1 mm) requiring further thermal treatment in order to separate EVA-glued layers in glass fragments; a fine fraction (<0.4 mm) requiring chemical treatment to dissolve metals and obtain another recoverable glass fraction. Coarse fractions (62%w/w) were treated thermally giving another recoverable glass fraction (52%w/w). Fine fractions can be further sieved into two sub-fractions: <0.08 mm (3%w/w) and 0.08–0.4 mm (22%w/w). Chemical characterization showed that 0.08–0.4 mm fractions mainly contained Fe, Al and Zn, while precious and dangerous metals (Ag, Ti, Te, Cu and Cd) are mainly present in fractions <0.08 mm. Acid leaching of 0.08–0.4 mm fractions allowed to obtain a third recoverable glass fraction (22%w/w). The process route allowed to treat by the same scheme of operation both Si based panels and Cd-Te panels with an overall recycling rate of 91%.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)422-431
    Number of pages10
    JournalWaste Management
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1



    • Chemical treatment
    • Glass recovery
    • Photovoltaic panels
    • Physical treatment
    • Recycling

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Waste Management and Disposal

    Cite this