Nature Perfectly Recreated

The environmental simulation laboratory: Indoor testing for outdoor influences.

"BANG!": A direct hit. A hailstone made from real ice and with a diameter of 35 millimeters crashes into a solar module at 155 km/h. The laboratory worker takes off his protective goggles and examines the point of impact. Not a scratch. Perfect. The velocity of a falling hailstone is actually only about 35 km/h. Test passed. Along with hailstorms, TÜV Rheinland’s environmental simulator is also able to recreate other weather conditions in order to test products under realistic conditions: extreme heat, freezing temperatures, high humidity, pressure and suction due to snow load, wind, air containing salt or ammonia, and prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Lichtalterungs-Teststand_TUEV Rheinland

History & Location

Only four years old but far from immature

The world’s largest and most state-of-the-art test center for solar modules opened on 22 June 2009 at the TÜV Rheinland campus in Cologne Poll. TÜV Rheinland invested about four million euros in the new construction and technical facilities. Since then, PhD physicists and graduate engineers, technicians, foremen, skilled workers and logistics experts have all been working hand in hand on an area encompassing 2000 m². The test facilities are constantly being expanded and modified to allow them to remain flexible at all times and react to the ever-changing demands of the market.

Klimakammern für Umweltsimulationen_TÜV Rheinland

Testing Fields

Light, weather, air: What the laboratory can simulate

Hailstorms: The impact on a product is tested at 155 km/h using special hailstones.

UV test: Four days in the chamber correspond to three months of global radiation in Central Europe. Additional weathering, for example using humidity, is possible.

Mechanical stress test: The controlled application of force demonstrates the product’s resistance against pressure and suction, which occur during snow and wind.

Climate simulation: Shows the aging process of products under stress influences such as heat, cold and humidity.

Continuous light: Constant exposure to light simulates the behavior of light at noon on a summer’s day.

Peeling test: Determines the adhesive strength of materials and adhesive joints.

Salt spray chamber: Quality control of coatings by spraying salt mist at different severity levels.

Ammonia test: Testing of atmospheric corrosion caused by ammonia or other corrosive gases as they occur on livestock farms.

Driving rain test: The test measures the water load by simulating falling rain accelerated by wind.

Teststand Schlagregen_TUEV Rheinland

Particularity

Flexibility: Testing services not limited to the solar industry

Test of climatic, mechanical and corrosive environmental influences is not limited to products from the photovoltaics and solar thermal energy sectors. Whether it’s manufacturers of lacquer, tape or adhesives, the plastics and construction material industries are able to benefit from these testing services just as much as the automotive sector or agriculture. Motorhome roofs, for example, are subjected to simulated hailstorms. Conservatory components bake and freeze in the climatic chamber. Engineers test offshore plant parts for corrosion resistance in the salt spray chamber. The range of testing possible in the environmental simulation lab is huge – and new areas can be added according to individual customer requests.

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