1366 Technologies, based in Lexington, Mass., says the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has offered a conditional commitment to the company for a $150 million loan guarantee. 1366 will use the DOE funds to scale its Direct Wafer manufacturing capabilities in Massachusetts and build a second U.S. manufacturing facility that will produce silicon wafers.
The first commercial facility, located in Massachusetts, is scheduled to be fully operational by 2013 and will produce 20 MW of capacity annually and employ 100 people. Construction on a second, larger, 1,000 MW facility is scheduled to commence in 2013 and create 300 permanent positions. The location of the second U.S. facility has not been decided.
1366's Direct Wafer technology forms a 156 mm multicrystalline wafer directly from molten silicon. This process contrasts with standard wafer manufacturing, which involves a multi-step, batch process of ingot casting, blocking, squaring and sawing that wastes up to 50% of the high-value silicon, according to the company. By using standard silicon and producing industry-compatible wafers, Direct Wafer integrates into the existing silicon photovoltaics' supply chain, providing cost savings to cell customers without added complexity.