The role of adhesives in the fight against climate change

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard that we only have a few years to stop the temperature of Earth rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celcius. Barely a day goes by where climate change is not discussed in the news. The topic is fraught with politics and the differing opinions of influential figures, sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the debate and forget to take action. Slowing down climate change successfully will take the collaboration of entire communities and the adhesives and sealants industry is no exception.

Renewable energy is one aspect of the fight against climate change and will become even more heavily relied upon as fossil fuels begin to run out. Adhesives and sealants are critical for many applications in the renewable energy sector and without them slowing down climate change would be near impossible.

Solar panels require adhesives in both the assembly and mounting of the photovoltaics modules. Products are used for encapsulation of the crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell and have very good thermal resistance and low moisture uptake. An adhesive is also used for bonding the substrate, photovoltaic cell and back sheet together. This adhesive must have low moisture vapour transmission, good heat and chemical resistance, high bond strength and good optical clarity. Furthermore, adhesives are often used to mount the modules onto racks and the racks onto roofs or more commonly to bond the panels directly to roofs to eliminate the heavy racks.

Wind turbines typically consist of three sections, the tower, the blades and hub and the section in which the equipment is held, known as the nacelle. All of these sections require adhesives and sealants, however, the vast majority are used for the blades. These adhesives must have very high shear and peel strengths and good heat resistance to enable to blades to withstand harsh winds. Wind turbine towers are usually made of steel but concrete towers are becoming more common. Concrete towers are made of segments stacked on-top of each other and in-between each segment is 2-part epoxy resin. Sealants are typically used for the nacelle cover and anaerobic threadlockers are also used in the nacelle.