Silicon Company Starts Research Program

Solar Grade Silicon LLC (SGSilicon) has started a research program for the production of low-cost granular solar grade polysilicon for use in the PV industry.

Moses Lake, Washington – March 28, 2003 [] A research staff is now conducting experimental tests in a four-inch laboratory-scale fluid bed reactor (FBR) previously built by Advanced Silicon Materials LLC (ASiMI). The experiments will study reactor design and process parameters for production of polysilicon from silane gas. The goal of the research is to determine the design of a commercial reactor for large-scale production of PV feedstock meeting the U.S. PV Industry goal of less than US$20 per kilogram. A dedicated supply of low-cost feedstock has been identified by the industry as a barrier to continued reduction in solar panel costs. Cost-sharing funding support from public and government agencies is being considered. Design of the current reactor is based on initial experiments at Union Carbide in the 1970s for the Department of Energy’s Flat Plate Solar Array Program administered by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 1995-1999, ASiMI designed several improvements in a process to develop semiconductor-grade granular polysilicon and holds several patents. SGSilicon is now testing further modifications to reduce production costs for a solar grade granular feedstock. Solar Grade Silicon LLC is a 50:50 joint venture of Advanced Silicon Materials LLC (ASiMI), a subsidiary of Komatsu Ltd., Japan, and Silicon Technologies AS, a subsidiary of Renewable Energy Corp., Norway.
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