Solar Equipment Made From Castor Beans, BioBacksheets, Going Commercial In U.S.

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BioSolar, a small public company (OTCBB: BSRC.OB) that makes solar backsheets — a component of the equipment used to hold solar photovoltaic modules in place within frames and racks, and to protect the modules from weather and other damage — attained safety certifications from Underwriter Laboratories this week.

The UL-certification enables BioSolar to sell its backsheets to a variety of North American solar panel manufacturers and solar developers who seek to integrate them into products they ship.

BioSolar’s BioBacksheets are made of fully recyclable and biodegradable materials derived from a non-food, renewable crop, castor beans (image, below). Other industry standard backsheets are made of polyvinyl fluoride, polyester or laminated film— materials that may be UV- and weather-resistant, but are made from petroleum, and are not biodegradable or recyclable. They can even be toxic.

In an interview with TechCrunch before the company attained its certifications, BioSolar chief executive David Lee said:

“The solar industry has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years. Its about time for us to look at the impact of what we are doing as the solar industry to the environment. Are we sustainable as an industry? [We] want to make solar a truly green source of energy.

I remember 20-30 years ago, when silicon kicked off technology development, we had this boom in the economy. Later, the big tech manufacturers realized we’ve created a pollution issue from the materials.

The solar industry should do a more responsible thing, from harvesting materials to manufacture and recycling of all the components. With Biosolar, we want to make sure we are environmentally friendly and at the same time that our green technologies are cost-effective.”

The company is focused on selling within North America for now, but Lee said BioSolar will seek international certifications akin to the UL mark to expand sales globally in the future.

BioSolar faces competition from incumbents like DUNMORE and DuPont that supply backsheets to massive solar panel makers, already.

Image: Castor bean plant, via Jason Hollinger (CC-BY SA 2.0)