Major polysilicon producer, GCL-Poly, has successfully initiated trial production of its high-purity polysilicon silane system that produces silane gas in-house. The development will ultimately lead to the use of fluidized bed reactors (FBR) that offer lower polysilicon production costs due to its almost continuous production process. REC and more recently MEMC have been pioneers of the FBR process and technology developments.
“The breakthrough and application of this technology does not only fill the gap of the domestic silane manufacturing technology, but also provide a supply base for China’s semiconductor and new energy materials industries so that they can source high-quality, low cost and large-scaled raw materials domestically in the future,” commented Zhu Gongshan, chairman of GCL-Poly.
“Meanwhile, this technology breakthrough changes China’s reliance on silane gas import for many years.”
According to a recent report from Bernreuter Research, “The 2012 Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production,” which Johannes Bernreuter Research presented during the recent EU PVSEC in Germany, monosilane technology would gain traction over conventional Siemens processes as it offered the potential for lower-cost production.
A key limiting factor, however, would be its lower-purity levels, though developments by MEMC via its JV with Samsung in South Korea were promising to significantly improve purity levels needed for the PV industry.
“The sweet spot of sufficient silicon quality at low cost is very small,” noted Bernreuter in his report.
The development of FBR has not been without its challenges for REC and MEMC so the expectation is for a slow ramp of the technology by GCL-Poly, according to experts such as Bernreuter.