A leading supplier of turnkey solar-cell manufacturing lines has signed a purchase order with Sixtron Advanced Materials to buy multiple units of its SunBox silane-free gas generation system. The Montreal-based company says it will work closely with its new partner to ensure the SunBox is “plug and play” compatible with all existing and future crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cell manufacturing lines, as part of its strategy to partner with leading PECVD providers.
The Sixtron SunBox operates alongside the PECVD system on a solar-cell manufacturing line to safely and effectively deposit nonreactive, silane-free SiCN antireflective coatings (ARCs) and backside passivation layers on c-Si PV cells, ensuring maximum sunlight absorption and conversion efficiency.
Until now, the ARCs and backside passivation layers of cells have been deposited using silane, a volatile and pyrophoric gas that requires costly safety and handling procedures while multiplying manufacturers’ financial and operational risks.
The SunBox is designed to integrate seamlessly with industry standard PECVD equipment while offering more cost-effective AR and backside passivation coatings for c-Si cells, with efficiencies on par with cells made with silane deposition systems, according to data from Georgia Tech’s University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaics (UCEP).
The silane-free system reduces capital expenditures for cell manufacturers by eliminating the need for the cumbersome safety equipment and procedures required for silane handling, the company said. It further cuts operating costs and mitigates risk by ensuring c-Si cell makers avoid costly process disruptions caused by unintended fires, worker injuries, and even fatalities associated with silane mishaps.
“Formalizing our relationship with one of the industry’s major turnkey line providers marks an important milestone for Sixtron,” said Zbigniew Barwicz, CEO of Sixtron. “This is a confirmation by one of the technical leaders in the market that Sixtron’s silane-free solution can lead to lower overall system costs and reduced risk associated with unplanned downtime and production disruptions.”
“By eliminating the complexities required to ship volatile compressed gases, expensive safety equipment, blast walls, and bunkers required for silane handling with one simple, plug-and-play on-site gas generation solution the size of a commercial refrigerator, our silane-free SunBox significantly reduces cap-ex and op-ex, streamlines scaling issues, and effectively eliminates unplanned downtime,” concluded Barwicz.