ShinHa to market BioSolar's biobased backsheet product

By Erin Voegele | September 13, 2011

California-based BioSolar Inc. has entered into a sales rep agreement with ShinHa Inc. to market its biobased backsheet, which is designed to for use in photovoltaic (PV) solar modules. ShinHa is a Korean firm that represents large Asian PV panel manufacturers targeting the North American solar market.

"Competition in the worldwide marketplace is working in our favor," said BioSolar CEO David Lee. "As prices for solar panels continue to drop, manufacturers are searching for alternative PV components that cost less while matching or exceeding the durability of incumbent components. Our BioBacksheet, which costs less than incumbent backsheet with similar durability, has become very appealing to large Asian PV panel manufacturers that export to the North American market. New research shows that North America will be the fastest growing PV market over the next five years."

According to Lee, the main ingredient in BioSolar’s BioBacksheet product is nylon 11, which is a polyamide made from renewable feedstock. Castor beans are a primary ingredient used to manufacture the biobased polyamide. “We developed it and are using a contract manufacturer on the East Coast of the United States to produce [it],” Lee said. The resulting polyamide is then mixed with proprietary ingredients, which consist mostly of mineral components, to create BioBacksheet.

The product has been certified under the USDA’s BioPreferred Program, Lee said. Using the USDA’s test methods for evaluating the renewable carbon content of the product, the backsheet was found to contain 95 percent biobased content, Lee added. "Because we achieved the highest possible biobased contents rating from the USDA, we are seeing increased interest in our BioBacksheet from foreign PV panel manufacturers pursuing sales to the U.S. government,” he said.

According to Lee, his company has successfully navigated 99 percent of the regulatory hurdles that have to be overcome for BioBacksheet to enter the market. “We have a material certification from [Underwriters Laboratories Inc.],” Lee said. BioSolar is currently awaiting the completion of one last certification item, a provisional relative thermal index (RTI) rating. “That rating has to be obtained in order for PV manufacturers to recertify their modules,” he said. “That’s the last hurdle. We think it’s very close. The reason [ShinHa] jointed with us is they feel it’s very close and they felt that it was time to start their marketing plan.