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ENERGIX-Stort program energi

Recycled kerf for mono silicon feedstock

Alternative title: Resirkulert kerf som råstoff for monokrystallinsk silisium

Awarded: NOK 8.0 mill.

Project Manager:

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Project Period:

2022 - 2024

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REC Solar produces feedstock for silicon solar cells using a unique, metallurgical production process based on recycling of fines from the wafer slicing process (“kerf”). This material is established as feedstock for production of p-type monocrystalline ingots and wafers for low carbon footprint markets. The recent transition to Ga as the primary dopant in p-type PERC cells, and the forecast market transition to n-type cell technologies, introduces challenges related to the inherent boron concentration in REC feedstock. This project focuses on module degradation mechanisms that depend on the properties of the feedstock, one related to B and O, the other to H introduced in cell processing. Degradation is counteracted with processes using combinations of elevated temperature and illumination/current. Earlier we have found degradation and regeneration kinetics to depend on the concentration of the different dopants. A main finding of the previous project was that it is possible to regenerate compensated material to the same level as single dopant references. The degradation phenomena will be studied using sets of wafers with differing dopant compensation and pretreatment. Time series of minority carrier lifetime are measured under conditions that accelerate degradation and regeneration. Kinetic models are used to separate the contributions of each degradation mechanism. A detailed understanding of the degradation and regeneration phenomena and how they depend on dopant composition will enable setting of tolerance limits of impurities and guidelines for optimal treatments of wafers made with REC feedstock, both for p-type and n-type materials. Available kerf varies in B content, and processes that reduce the amount of B in the produced material add flexibility and help meet B content targets. Processes that can remove B, either from incoming kerf or from molten Si will be screened, with promising candidates tested experimentally.

In this project recycled wafering fines (“kerf”) will be established as a cost-effective, circular, low CO2 footprint primary silicon feedstock material, called E2M, for future high efficiency p- and n-type cell technologies. The recent transition to gallium as the primary dopant in p-type PERC cells, and the forecasted market transition to n-type cell technologies, introduces new challenges related to the inherent concentration of trace amounts of dopants in E2M solar grade silicon that will be addressed in this project. There are many sources of module degradation, but there are two types associated with the wafer and silicon feedstock quality which are triggered under illumination in the field: BO-LID and LeTID. Both mechanisms have been studied extensively in p-type boron doped silicon, but there is limited information available in the literature on the behavior in compensated materials. We aim to establish fundamental understanding of the physical properties of this new class of solar grade silicon focusing on performance limiting impurities. The project will focus on both reduction of the impurity levels through improved refining processes, and by developing strategies and processes to mitigate their effect. New and improved thermal wafer cleaning processes will be developed to reduce the concentration of performance limiting metallic impurities in emerging low temperature cell processes.

Funding scheme:

ENERGIX-Stort program energi