US-Based ‘Direct Wafer’ producer, 1366 Technologies has met a key production milestone set a year ago of producing 5MW per year for each furnace that is claimed to be on par with conventional ingot casting furnaces used in producing the ubiquitous multicrystalline wafer.
As a result, the start-up company plans to have three “copy exact” furnaces operational in the first quarter of 2015, said to be the final step before building its previously announced 250MW wafer facility.
However, the company has also said that other key metrics have also been reached that are intended to secure the ramp of the new facility.
1366 Technologies said it had eliminated of the “low efficiency tail” in multi c-Si wafer production, which is an issue with ingot casting techniques that carry higher than wanted impurities and poor crystalline characteristics at various areas of formed ingots. Wafers produced from these sections of an ingot have lower efficiency ratings and are often re-melted or sold in lower performing modules and low margins.
1366 Technologies claims a highly conformal and repeatable process as each wafer is grown one-at-a-time, under controlled conditions.
“Manufacturing is the science of reducing variability. In cutting the tail, we’ve eliminated the wide quality disparity associated with today’s multi-crystalline wafers,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. “Our learning curve is faster and our potential for higher overall efficiencies is greater because our innovations are that much better than standard silicon casting. We not only dramatically reduce the cost of making wafers, we make the wafers better.”