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Project Name: Continuous Silicon Reduction and Consolidation
Funding Opportunity: PVRD
SunShot Subprogram: Photovoltaics
Location: Menlo Park, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $900,000
Awardee Cost Share: $100,000
Project Investigator: Jordi Perez
This project investigates a continuous silicon reduction and consolidation process to reduce the capital, material, and energy costs associated with producing high purity polysilicon. The new method will use low-cost precursors and has the capability to recycle silicon fines, which are a common waste product of fluidized bed reactors and wafer sawing. This technology has the capability of reducing module costs by up to 10% based on reducing the cost of the polysilicon feedstock used to grow silicon bricks and ingots.
The research team will work to demonstrate that the Continuous Silicon Reduction and Consolidation (CoSiRC) process can produce solar-grade silicon and that effective removal of impurities from different types of fines is carried out to a level that ensures that the final product meets solar-grade specifications. The team will also study the effects of oxygen on the viscosity of the flux agent and establish the window of operation that allows the process to be carried out.
This project will develop a prototype for the CoSiRC process, a window of operating conditions, specifications for the Si fines that can be recycled, a techno-economic analysis of the process, a design of the core elements in a pilot-scale manufacturing system, and a commercialization plan to transfer the technology to an industrial partner. This work will decrease manufacturing costs of crystalline silicon modules via savings in energy, depreciation costs, and cost of raw materials, helping to meet Sun Shot’s levelized cost of energy targets.