1366 Technologies, developer of a proprietary solar wafer manufacturing technique, has opened a new 25 MW wafer manufacturing facility in Bedford, Mass.
The 42,000 square-foot factory, slated to employ 100 people, represents the final step in the path to commercialization of the company's Direct Wafer technology.
According to the company, the Direct Wafer process produces a uniformly better wafer at half the cost of traditional PV wafers. The process creates multicrystalline wafers directly from molten silicon instead of through the usual multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive process.
Within the next 12-18 months, Direct Wafer production is expected to increase from thousands of wafers to millions, as the company's team of engineers and scientists fine-tune the process to where it can be transferred and replicated in future facilities.
This Massachusetts facility is the first of two planned by the company. In September 2011, 1366 was awarded a $150 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a second, 1,000 MW U.S. manufacturing facility. The company says it will begin its search for a location this year.