There’s a new player moving forward with plans to add to the world’s supply of high-purity silicon. With supplies tight and demand for polysilicon forecast to continue growing strongly on the back of demand for silicon-based solar photovoltaics and semiconductors, Pasadena-based
Jacobs Engineering Group announced today that it will provide engineering, procurement and construction management services for Italy’s Estelux, which plans to construct a state-of-the-art polysilicon manufacturing facility, on the site of an existing petrochemical plant in Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna.
At a cost of 360 million euros and due to be completed in 2010, the plant will have the capacity to produce 4,000 tons of polysilicon per year. Backed by investors including Solon Photovoltaik, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of solar PV modules, Estelux sees the gap between polysilicon supply and demand continuing to widen. Production totaled approximately 32,000 tons in 2005.
Meeting the Needs of a Growing Solar PV Industry
With Jacobs’ Milan office having completed the plant’s preliminary design, it will now shift to manage project work with support from specialist office’s in Greenville, South Carolina and Mumbai, India, according to Jacobs.
Also on the site privately held chemical industry giant Evonik Degussa is building a chemical plant, which will provide a ready supply of trichlorosilane, an industrial liquid made up of silicon, chlorine and hydrogen.
Minimizing environmental impacts and resource use were high up on the designers’ agenda, according to Jacobs. “Design and construction will maximize energy saving through solar panel utilities usage and recycling technologies, as well as sustainable water and rail transportation solutions and logistics issues. The plant’s proximity to the raw material for production limits hazardous materials handling to directly controlled adjacent areas inside the petrochemical site.”
The new facility’s infrastructure will include off-gas treatment plants, a high voltage electrical substation, a wastewater treatment plant, distillation and fractionation columns, associated utilities.
Two buildings will house the equipment and materials to decompose trichlorosilane and form silicon rods using a custom-designed closed process, the first step in the polysilicon production process, and a building for finishing with laboratories and control rooms where the rods will be crushed, transformed and packed in a contamination controlled environment.