Brussels, Belgium-headquartered Umicore and Oslo, Norway-headquartered Hydro have joined forces in the production of solar-grade silicon used in the production of solar cells. The new company, named HyCore, will be based in Porsgrunn, Norway.
HyCore will utilize proprietary technology that Hydro and Umicore have developed for the conversion of metallurgical silicon to solar-grade silicon. According to the companies, this approach is more energy-efficient than the traditional processes and allows for a closed-loop approach whereby all major process consumables are reused.
Metallurgical silicon is found in abundance, but the demand for solar-grade purity has risen substantially, in line with the growth of the photovoltaics industry. Economical limitations of the traditional conversion technology have led to a shortage of solar-grade silicon, which has spurred the development of new technologies, the companies add.
Paul Mijlemans, formerly the head of Umicore's semiconductor wafer business for space photovoltaics, will be responsible for the management of the new company.