As the efficiencies of new photovoltaic (PV) modules continue to increase, and their purchase prices dramatically decrease, companies and organizations that were early adopters of PV energy sources are now often upgrading their sometimes decades-old PV arrays to the newer, higher efficiency PV systems. The installation of these upgraded PV systems often, unfortunately, result in the older and fully depreciated, but still reasonably functional, PV modules being hastily disassembled (sometimes destructively), scraped and sent to a landfill. Recently, the Alternative Energy Engineering program at Lawrence Technological University (LTU) received donated, scrapped, and older Isofoton I-94/24 PV modules from Masco Corporation, a local industrial partner of the LTU College of Engineering. In this paper, the faculty and student authors show how these scrapped, but still functional, PV modules can yet have a useful life. The initial performance assessment of each module by the authors using a simple, low-coast variable resistance testing set-up to sort-out working and non-working modules is discussed. Examples of the generated module performance test data are presented. Also reviewed are how these test data, along with Isofoton product literature, were used in the circuit design for their integration with recycled 12-volt lead-acid batteries (available from a previous university project) into a portable, and expandable, back-up, photovoltaic power-source student project. Also, a possible approach for how this integrated system could serve as a prototype for how such recycled modules and batteries might be used for viable energy storage systems in the future is proposed. Lastly, student feedback regarding their experience, knowledge gained, and the benefits they received in participating in this project are documented.
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