Merrimack, New Hampshire [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Solar module line manufacturer GT Equipment Technologies won three technical grants from the U.S. Government totaling nearly $1 million. One of the projects will explore the production of solar cells from lower-grade silicon as a way to lower the end cost of solar modules.Two of the grants have been awarded under the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and one grant under the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR). The first SBIR grant (Phase 1) will focus on a novel low cost process for production of crystalline silicon for wafers that will enable higher efficiency and cost savings in solar cell production, which is key to the continued growth of the photovoltaic industry. A second SBIR grant (Phase 2) will investigate the production of silicon wafers for solar cells directly from metallurgical grade silicon material instead of more expensive solar grade silicon. This project will lead to a new U.S.-based technology for the photovoltaic industry where solar grade silicon is in short supply. An STTR grant (Phase 1) will be a joint research project between GT Equipment Technologies and the University of New Hampshire to develop a new, more efficient and cost-effective atmospheric plasma chemical vapor deposition process for producing the coatings that are used in the manufacture of solar cells and other processes, including semiconductor related coatings. “The research we’re conducting with these grants will be important not only for GT’s business, but also for more efficiency and lower cost production in the photovoltaic, semi-conductor and electronic industries – industries that depend on continual R&D to grow,” said GT Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, Jon Talbott. GT Equipment Technologies was recently named by the Export-Import Bank of the United States as “Environmental Exporter of the Year” in the United States. GT Equipment Technologies, Inc. is a privately held company and an industry leader in the design and manufacture of semi-custom and specialty equipment for the solar and materials processing industries, particularly for photovoltaic and semi-conductor applications.