Arise Technologies’ solar PV silicon division has met the fourth major milestone for its polysilicon feedstock pilot plant project. The Canadian company said that it has finished the initial construction phase of the plant and that the pilot plant-scale silicon refining furnace, manufactured by Ebner Industrieofenbau, has also been completed and is operational.
The project’s goal is the development of a new approach to refine high-purity silicon needed for high-efficiency photovoltaic cells, a proprietary process intended to produce 7N+ high-purity (99.99999 percent) silicon for PV applications using a simplified CVD process.
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Arise said it met the first project milestone with the August 2007 commissioning of the SIRF 3.1, the second milestone when the mini pilot plant became operational and successfully produced polysilicon in December 2007, and the third milestone in May 2008 when the company achieved specific process economics, scalability, and quality objectives at the mini pilot plant.
“We have completed all the engineering planning required for the new 68,000-square-foot pilot plant in Kitchener, ON,” said Bart Tichelman, Arise’s president/CEO. “The retrofitting of the existing building to suit our needs is under way and on schedule. As previously announced, we are planning that the pilot plant will have a production capacity of 50 tons per year in 2009, and a further expansion to 400 tons per year is expected by 2010.”
Tichelman also cited the “tremendous contribution” to Arise’s silicon program that Ebner has made. The fuirnace is “set for delivery to our plant in the 2009 first quarter. Our valued partnership with Ebner has enabled us to maintain a very rapid pace of development along the pathway to get our proprietary process to market.”
“The engineering design, procurement, and fabrication for the first SiRF 4 furnace are complete, and we are very pleased with the results of the initial runs,” added Jeff Dawkins, VP/GM of Arise’s PV silicon division. “We expect to use SiRF 4 equipment in our 400-tons-per-year facility, planned for 2010.”
Arise’s silicon feedstock development project is being partially funded by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), which is covering about one-third of the eligible project costs up to $6.4 million, payable in tranches as Arise meets specified milestones. SDTC’s funding of the project is leveraged by an additional $13.2 million committed by an Arise-led consortium.