SolOcean photovoltaics float thanks to high-tech plastics technology
SolOcean has strong partners. One of them is Rehau AG & Co – a hidden champion in polymer technology.
The Rehau Group is a family-owned global polymer processor. The group, with roots in Franconia, employs around 20,000 people worldwide at more than 170 locations on five continents (including four plants in Austria) and generates annual sales of around 3.3 billion euros. A particular focus is on component development and supply for the automotive industry. As is common today, Rehau also takes on large parts of the development work. For example, Rehau was also involved in the development work for the SolarFloater.
The deep know-how in various production processes enables Rehau to manufacture a wide range of products and a high product diversity. One of these is the so-called Extrusion Blow Molding.
What is Extrusion Blow Molding?
This process is a combination of extrusion and hollow blow molding. In this process, the hot parison coming from the extruder is placed in the mold, cut off and blown up in the mold. The process is suitable, for example, for the production of technical hollow bodies. A typical feature is the varying wall thickness in the molded part. Rehau uses the process to manufacture air ducts, among other things. However, blow molding has also proven to be a particularly suitable process for manufacturing the floats of the SolarFloater.
In marine areas, where wind, waves and currents are present as well as corrosion by salt water, previous floating PV systems do not hold up for several reasons. The floater was developed with the Graz University of Technology in cooperation with the head of the institute Prof. Dr. Christoph Hochenauer and is characterized by a high buoyancy, high stability as well as low material usage. The material used is seawater-resistant, UV-stable and does not emit microplastics. Due to the monomeric material, complete recycling is possible. It is designed in such a way that individual connecting pieces can be omitted in the middle section, depending on requirements.
The high temperature dimensional stability as well as the flexible connecting pieces dampen ocean movements and ensure over 25 years of uninterrupted use.
In this context, the size of the Rehau Group ensures that production can be scaled accordingly if demand for the SolOcean SolarFloater is expected.
Ready to take responsibility
Incidentally, apart from its expertise in polymer technology, we also liked Rehau’s self-image as a family-owned company that thinks long-term and for which sustainable development has always played a significant role.
Rehau has joined the 50 Sustainability & Climate Leaders initiative. This unites companies worldwide that want to take the lead in the fight against climate change and take effective action. Since 2020, Rehau has also committed to the UN Global Compact initiative on corporate responsibility and its principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.