Dow Corning Opens Solar Test Facility | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: May 20, 2008

Dow Corning Opens Solar Test Facility

Unit is intended to shine light on new solar panel technology
Department: Business, Science & Technology | Collection: Sustainability
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Dow Corning scientists at newly opened solar applications center.
Credit: Dow Corning
Dow Corning scientists at newly opened solar applications center.
Credit: Dow Corning

Dow Corning has opened a $3 million demonstration facility to showcase its silicone and silicon technologies for the manufacture of solar panels. The Solar Solutions Application Center, located in a former Dow Corning research facility in Freeland, Mich., is the latest in a series of recent investments in solar power by the company.

The 27,000-sq-ft facility includes a laboratory, pilot equipment, and Testing facilities for solar assemblies using silicone materials as encapsulants, adhesives, coatings, potting agents, and sealants. The lab will also work with customers to incorporate a new metallurgically derived silicon product, PV 1101 Solar Grade Silicon, into photovoltaic panels. The new grade of silicon can be combined with the standard, but more expensive and difficult-to-make, hyperpure polycrystalline silicon, which is in short supply.

This application center "represents our intention to be an active, eager partner with researchers, producers, and governments," says Eric Peeters, executive director of Dow Corning Solar Solutions. The center will address research and production issues including availability of raw materials, cost, durability, and performance of solar modules.

Dow Corning and partners Shin-Etsu Chemical and Mitsubishi Materials recently undertook a four-year, $1 billion expansion of polycrystalline silicon capacity for the joint venture Hemlock Semiconductor largely to meet demand from solar cell makers. Dow Corning owns 63.3% of Hemlock.

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