Independent testing by TECSI Solar confirms the superior strength of Origami steel solar module frames protects active solar components better than conventional aluminum frames
U.S.-made steel-framed modules can also benefit from key provision in Inflation Reduction Act
Bend, Oregon – August 9, 2022 – Origami Solar, developers of a patent-pending steel solar module frame that will transform the solar industry, announces newly published initial test results from TECSI Solar that confirm the Origami roll-formed steel frame design is superior in performance to conventional aluminum frames. The testing conducted at TECSI Solar compared a 35mm tall Origami steel frame against a 40mm aluminum frame under identical conditions and using identical PV laminates.
Key report findings
- Top Clamping: Steel frames were tested for compression strength to support typical top clamp loads, which could result in frame buckling or laminate breakage. The Origami steel frame delivered more than sufficient rigidity and stability to resist such loads.
- Downforce: The Origami steel frame significantly outperformed the taller aluminum frame in frame wall rigidity, structural stability, and total deflection, even at a 150 psf load. Most importantly, the solar active components of the PV laminate were far better protected from possible damage as validated in EL imaging tests done during testing.
- Upforce: When comparing mechanical load performance, the Origami steel frame again outperformed standard aluminum frames – including being able to withstand upforce loading to 135 psf.
- Laminate Rigidity: The Origami steel frame maintained laminate rigidity better than aluminum, better protecting the solar cells from cracking under downward loading.
- Installation Compatibility: The Origami steel frame was tested for top-clamp and bolt-mounting installations, proving compatibility with existing racking systems.
Switching from aluminum to steel module frames would bring tremendous benefits to the solar industry. Solar panel costs are rising after decades of reductions, due to long and expensive supply chains struggling with increased demand. A shift to steel frames would greatly reduce supply chain concentration risks and help stabilize prices by enabling large-scale domestic manufacturing. Steel also reduces production-related GHG emissions by 87%, according to a recent report published by Boundless Research.
Origami Solar’s innovation can also benefit from solar power system tax incentives that are a prominent part of pending federal legislation. In addition to a 30% tax credit for solar installations, the Inflation Reduction Act, just passed by the U.S. Senate and moving to a House vote this week, also includes an additional 10% credit for domestically produced content. With a robust American steel manufacturing supply chain in place, the U.S. solar industry will gain a transformative economic boost through use of steel solar module frames that qualify for the added incentive.
“The Origami roll-formed steel frames proved to be durable, resilient, and able to surpass the performance of typical aluminum frames under real-world rail-attached test conditions. The frames did a better job of protecting the laminate from cell crack initiation and propagation, which is critical to reliable long-term energy production. Our office has concluded that the Origami steel frame is a suitable candidate for consideration to replace extruded aluminum PV module frames and can provide significantly better performance if properly designed,” said Samuel Truthseeker, Founder and Principal Engineer at TECSI Solar.
Origami Solar is a finalist in DOE’s American-Made Solar Prize competition, which will be awarded in September. The company uses a steel roll forming process that creates a frame with intricate folds. Origami’s patent-pending design, combining innovative engineering and deep knowledge of the capabilities of precision roll-forming and utilizing domestically available recycled steel, delivers performance that equals or exceeds that of aluminum frames, while lowering material costs. This innovative module frame is readily manufacturable and will meet or exceed all UL and IEC standards.
The Executive Summary of the TECSI Solar report can be accessed here.
About Origami Solar
Origami Solar is the developer of a patent-pending steel solar panel frame that will transform the solar industry through reduced material and manufacturing cost, high-speed domestic production, and dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions. By sourcing steel from an established industry ecosystem, solar module manufacturers can eliminate supply chain constraints, accelerate the transition to carbon-free energy, and help level the global playing field for module production. The company’s leadership team has successfully developed utility-scale solar projects, commercialized PV components, and launched and led several renewable energy companies. For more information, visit www.origamisolar.com.