1366 receives USD$150 million DOE loan guarantee to develop "revolutionary" wafer process


It is hoped that through its research and development, 1336 could help to "significantly" help to drive down the costs of solar manufacturing.

Under the project, it has been said that between 700 and 1,000 megawatts of silicon-based wafers could be produced annually, through a "revolutionary" manufacturing process, called Direct Wafer.

According to a statement released, "the innovative process could reduce manufacturing costs of the wafers by approximately 50 percent, dramatically cutting the cost of solar power."

This is achieved through reducing four separate manufacturing processes into one. This is said to also "greatly reduce" silicon waste through the formation of individual wafers directly from a bath of molten silicon. "A thin sheet of silicon freezes inside the direct wafer furnace and is then removed and laser-trimmed to size," added the statement.

At full production, the entire wafer formation process is said to be completed in just 25 seconds. This in comparison to conventional batch processing, which can take up to three days. The process is also said to require 90 percent less energy.

The first phase of the project will be located in Lexington, Massachusetts and is expected to fund 70 permanent jobs and 50 construction jobs. Details of the second phase are still to be confirmed. 1336, however, is confident that "hundreds" of additional jobs will be created.

1336 has already received governmental funding for the original development of its idea, in the form of a USD $4 million grant from the Department of Energy’s (DOEs) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy program, and a USD$3 million grant from the DOEs office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy.