Recycling Strategies for Perovskite Photovoltaic Modules: Life Cycle Assessment of Energy Use and Environmental Impacts

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Energy use and environmental impacts of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have been extensively investigated over the past few years, driven by three major scientific questions. The first question lies in what components or processing steps play critical roles in PSC production. In order to identify hotspots in terms of embedded energy and environmental impacts, “cradle-to-grave” comparative life cycle analyses are conducted for five types of state-of-the-art PSC device architectures. We find that the use of substrate and precious metal, as well as energy-intensive heating processes, such as thermal evaporation and calcining, are the major contributors to the primary energy consumption, carbon footprint, and other environmental impact categories. The second key question is whether recycling is worthwhile for PSCs. To this end, the system boundary is expanded to a “cradle-to-cradle” counterpart, with recycling as the end-of-life scenario. The outcome indicates that the suggested recycling strategy results in at least 47% shorter energy payback time (EPBT) and over 44% reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission factor for the energy-intensive and environmentally expensive PSCs. Finally, we quantify the impacts of uncertainty induced by the immaturity of manufacturing processes and the fluctuation of operating conditions. The results emphasize the importance of prolonging the device lifetime (higher stability). Simultaneous consideration of high stability and recycling strategies could more efficiently improve the energy and environmental performance of PSCs.
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ReCiPe; Chemical engineering; recycling; energy payback time; greenhouse gas emission factor; life cycle assessment; perovskite solar cells
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You, Fengqi
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Tester, Jefferson William
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Chemical Engineering
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M.S., Chemical Engineering
Degree Level
Master of Science
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dissertation or thesis
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