Press release: Photovoltaic recycling on a new level

Münster, May 14, 2024 - Just under a year after opening the first Reiling PV recycling site in Germany, we have achieved two technological breakthroughs in the recycling of silicon-based PV modules. Firstly, the glass quality of the recovered PV glass has been significantly improved. In addition, silicon recovery was implemented on an industrial scale. This marks two important milestones in the processing of PV modules towards closing the recycling loop.

Optimized glass quality for recycled PV glass

Thanks to intensive research and development in recent years, our existing PV recycling process in Münster has been optimized and expanded. The result: our recovered recyclate is of such high quality that it can be used again in high-quality melting applications in the glass industry. This means that it no longer has to be used as a substitute for primary raw materials in the building materials industry, but the glass cycle can be closed sustainably. Our aspiration and goal remains to meet the high demands of the glass industry.

Silicon recovery on an industrial scale

A silicon-based crystalline photovoltaic module usually contains up to 3-5 % of the semiconductor metal silicon (depending on the manufacturer). In order to recover this small percentage, we have developed a highly specialized mechanical recycling process based on our research and development work. The start of research into silicon recovery was marked by our participation in the BMWK-funded EoL-Cycle project (2015-2019).

By actively developing the identified technology processes, we have now been able to transfer the recycling process to an industrial scale in order to recycle the critical raw material silicon. It now remains to be seen in which industries the recycled silicon will be used. A wide variety of areas are conceivable, from metallurgical processes (production of metals) to battery production and closed-loop recycling.

“I am proud of my team and their tireless efforts. However, we are by no means resting on our achievements. We will continue to research the optimization of our processes and find innovative solutions in the future,” says Tom Reiling, Managing Director of Reiling PV-Recycling.

You can find more information about our recycling solution in the field of photovoltaics here.