Material Utilization and Waste Reduction through Kerf Recycling
Small Business Information
Crystal Systems, Inc.
27 Congress Street, Salem, MA, 01970
AbstractA major loss of the expensive silicon used in the production of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells occurs at the wafering stage, where as much as 50% of this valuable material ends up as a disposal problem rather than being recycled. The waste results from the use of a loose abrasive used with the multi-wire slurry saws currently used to cut the silicon wafers; this abrasive contaminates the swarf silicon and eliminates the possibility of recycling this silicon. This project will develop technology for recycling the swarf silicon via a fixed diamond abrasive process called Fixed Abrasive Slicing Technology (FAST). In Phase I, silicon was wafered on a FAST machine and the recovered swarf was analyzed. The swarf was simulated in composition, phase, and particle size, and then processed in a silicon furnace to produce solar grade feedstock. In Phase II, the processing technology will be scaled-up to demonstrate a clear path to the commercialization of the fixed diamond abrasive slicing of silicon wafers. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: Converting to a recyclable slicing technology would eliminate one of the largest waste streams in PV and reduce the costs and environmental impacts of PV by 50% or more. The technology should lead to a $30 million business, which could grow by over a factor of 100 as the industry converted to fixed abrasive wafering
* information listed above is at the time of submission.