Power Panel donates Gen-2-0 solar power generator to Puerto Rico disaster relief efforts

Power Panel's Gen-2-0 is designed to meet the needs of communities and families that are in remote locations and have limited to no access to electricity or hot water

Rob Kornahrens

CEO of Power Panel

With another month left in the 2018 hurricane season, residents living in regions prone to extreme weather events are counting down the days until they can rest a little easier.

Just last year, Puerto Rico was hit by Maria, a category 4 hurricane that wreaked incredible amounts of devastation across the island, flattening homes and destroying infrastructure and power generation stations. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people were left without clean water, power and accessibility. And the territory is still dealing with the aftermath to this day.

To help with the relief efforts in Puerto Rico, BASF Corporation donated $350,000, $250,000 of which went to the BASF employee assistance fund to provide support to employees in Puerto Rico who were impacted by the storm. Yet, this was not the only way BASF helped out.

The many forms of relief

Disaster relief takes many forms and for Power Panel™, a turnkey solar technology solutions provider in Oxford, Mich., donating to the ongoing relief effort made perfect sense. Through its association with Solar Energy Industries Association, Power Panel joined Good360 and Crisis Response International to transport and set up their Gen-2-0 unit.

“Power Panel's Gen-2-0 is designed to meet the needs of communities and families that are in remote locations and have limited to no access to electricity or hot water," explains Rob Kornahrens, CEO of Power Panel.

Residents and volunteers are now able to take hot showers, get warm water and charge their cell phones. Several homes in the area are also being powered by the generator.

“It is powerful and rewarding to witness how quickly this technology can transform an area devastated by natural disaster, like Hurricane Maria," said Kornahrens.

Relief that's built to last

When BASF's Performance Materials division was approached by Power Panel with their product specs, it became clear that the Gen-2-0 solar module housing would need to be made with materials that could perform.

“The two criteria we were looking for were temperature resistance and formability within our tooling scheme," said Garth Schultz, Co-Founder and President of Power Panel. “BASF was able to help develop a resin that could run in our blow molding application, delivering the high-performance nylon we use to develop the housing."

“It was very important for us to make sure the materials used on the Gen-2-0 could withstand extreme conditions," said Thomas McKay, Market Segment Manager – N-PMN/IM, Industrial Manufacturing. “From high heat generated by the PV module to heavy loads and even environmental conditions like moisture and high UV exposure, we understood the importance of the Gen-2-0 needing to last."

The housing of the solar module needed to withstand high temperatures without compromising its performance, which was especially important considering how vital the unit was to the community of Dos Bocas.

“By nature, reinforced nylon is an engineered material that can resist high temperature, which the Gen-2-0 would generate if water was not running through it to harvest the thermal energy," said Schultz. “Without water, the housing is able to resist 120°C stagnation temperatures with a short-term maximum temperature of 180°C. Performance like this made us confident and comfortable knowing that the unit could be left unattended and without water and not melt. Additionally, we used Autofroth® foam to fill the cavity of the housing, which offered a 150°C temperature limit. Since the unit was only seeing around 120°C, this was a good margin that we were happy to work with."

Solar power generators like such as Gen-2-0 make a huge impact in areas where infrastructure repairs and reliable power are intermittent. This environment means the units themselves need to be built with materials that offer strength and durability.

“The Gen-2-0 is not a one-and-done installation like a typical module," said Shultz. “It's designed to be compact, light and easy to deploy in scenarios where diesel generators just aren't economically viable. Plus, the material used for the housing and the Autofroth foam on the backside make it tough. We've actually run a truck over top of the unit without any damage so it's highly durable."

The end of hurricane season can't come quickly enough for those in hurricane-prone regions, but for the people of Dos Bocas, being able to access the basic comforts of home made a world of difference.

To learn more about BASF Performance Materials, click here to be put in touch with one of our experts.

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