STTR PHASE I: Plasma Processing of Agricultural Waste into Photovoltaic Silicon

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008

$150K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Electrodynamic Applications, Inc.
P.O. Box 131460
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Michigan
3003 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Institution POC

Abstract

The Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I project will investigate the production of silane gas (SiH4) and photovoltaic-grade silicon (Sipv) from high silicon content agricultural waste. Current solar cell production struggles against the tremendous cost and complexity of refining Sipv or its more valuable gaseous pre-cursor SiH4. It is believed that the application of electromagnetic energy via a hydrogen plasma can be used to break SiO2 bonds and refine SiH4 directly from both lower grade silicon and from agricultural waste. This is a vast improvement over the current technique which requires the use of highly toxic chemical intermediaries and complex and capital intensive systems. Creating Sipv and SiH4 at lower cost from domestically available renewable resources will enable more aggressive and diverse investment in emerging solar energy technologies. This will help move the US toward nationally independent and environmentally clean energy, providing a broad positive impact both in terms of economy and national security.