Form and Function in Harmony - Wacker Chemie AG

Form and Function in Harmony

Silicone Gels for High Durability

“Silicone gels provide the best protection,” says Hermann Maier, a DRAWIN sales manager who has advised his key customer, SUNOVATION, for years. DRAWIN Vertriebs-GmbH is a wholly-owned WACKER subsidiary that acts as a distributor for the WACKER SILICONES business division. “A silicone gel hardens to an elastic, highly flexible and resilient substance. For this reason, silicone gels are ideal for reducing the mechanical stress in composite materials.” As an encapsulant, silicone gel prevents the panel from being damaged by the unequal thermal expansion of the various composite components during large temperature fluctuations. And packaged within the transparent, vulcanized gel, the highly fragile solar cells can also withstand warping of the panel. Thus, it is possible to manufacture even curved panels, such as are needed for the arched roofs of bus stops and solar-powered boats.

„We tested a number of encapsulants. The best results were attained using a silicone gel from WACKER.“

Prof. Andreas Wöll general manager, SUNOVATION GmbH
Cutting edge, lightweight design: a SUNOVATION® module.

SUNOVATION uses a two-part, addition-curing silicone gel from the WACKER SilGel® line. The gel is easy to pour. Among the vulcanizing silicone products, this one is of particularly low viscosity – when freshly mixed and not yet crosslinked, its fluidity lies between that of olive oil and thin-bodied honey. At room temperature, the gel cures gradually and the process is complete after about eight hours.

The initial building phase of the roof’s inner ring is already complete and supplies solar power. Weser Stadium’s wellknown floodlights can be seen in the background.

High Quality Is Not Enough

The panel manufacturer deliberately chose the WACKER product. “Over ten years ago, we carried out feasibility studies as part of our R&D efforts, in which we also tested various encapsulants. We got the best results with the silicone gel from WACKER, which we’ve been using ever since to produce our panels,” explains Professor Wöll, who also praised the cooperation with DRAWIN and with Dr. Christian Ochs from the Industrial Solutions business team at WACKER SILICONES: “We always received prompt and unbureaucratic answers to all our questions about silicone products. Particularly helpful for us is the technical support that the customer service team at WACKER SILICONES gives us.”

With its translucent solar panels for the inner ring of the new Weser Stadium roof, the solar panel manufacturer is realizing a project that will serve as a role model for other sports arenas. In Bremen, at least, there are already two winners – the environment (the sections of the stadium roof that were completed first are already feeding electricity into the grid) and the Werder Bremen fans, who will finally get the vibrant atmosphere they dream of.