EDITOR: | October 11th, 2016 | 3 Comments

HPQ Silicon on track for disrupting the solar industry

| October 11, 2016 | 3 Comments

HPQ Silicon Resources Inc. (TSXV: HPQ) reported on September 29, 2016 that its PUREVAPtm process is performing as previously expected with the production of 3N+ purity of silicon metal and particularly the removal of boron impurities, a troublesome contaminant in solar voltaic cells.

While HPQ is now engaged in an optimization program to reach 6N purity, easy steps can take it well over 4N purity in the short run.

Boron contamination in photovoltaics negatively affects the conversion efficiency of solar grade cells. Therefore boron removal is critical to HPQ’s PUREVAPtm process.

Analyses by arm’s length laboratories in Canada and the USA confirmed purity of silicon metal as high as 99.97%, which confirms that the PUREVAPtm process displays significant capacity to remove impurities including boron.

HPQ disclosed a report summarizing the results from 15 experimental development trials, which confirmed that the PUREVAPtm process combining different known steps into a one step process has now been validated.

Progressive experimental work conducted during the last quarter’s program advanced the process from producing sporadic and thin layers of Silicon Metal (from either the tip of the electrode or the bottom of the crucible), to producing nuggets of significant sizes.

The current report on the removal of impurities is a major milestone as it validates HPQ’s claim that the PUREVAPtm process can transform Quartz (SiO2) into Silicon Metal (Si), while removing impurities in a single step.

Boron (B) and Phosphorous (P) are the most challenging impurities to remove for the production solar grade silicon. Their removal is critical since elevated contents in silicon metal will affect the conversion efficiency of solar grade cells, the maximum tolerance for B and P in Solar Grade Silicon Metal are respectively 0.3 ppm and 0.1 ppm.

The next development phase aims at:

  1. Using the full energy potential of the plasma-submerged arc in the Vacuum;
  2. Adjust operational characteristic of the systems;
  3. Include new technological options; and,
  4. Changing supplies that add contaminants to the process.

For example, a carbon source previously used as a process catalyst contaminated the residual silicon with sulphur. Hence, assuming 100% removal of the sulphur during the process suggests that the current results, instead of obtaining purity result in a range from 99.88% up to 99.97, the results range could have been between 99.95% up to 99.991%–4N purity.

The PUREVAPtm process’ disruptive advantage is its one step direct transformation of Quartz into High Purity Silicon Metal, Solar Grade Silicon Metal and/or Higher Purity product, thereby potentially allowing HPQ Silicon to manufacture high value material for the same operating cost presently being paid by traditional producers to make Metallurgical Grade Si (98.5% Si) using the traditional arc furnace approach at high energy cost.

HPQ Silicon is the largest holder of High Purity Quartz properties in Quebec, a mining-friendly jurisdiction with low power costs with over 3,500 ha under claims. Despite the abundance of quartz, very few deposits are suitable for high purity applications. High Purity Quartz supplies are tightening, prices are rising, and exponential growth is forecast. Quartz from the Roncevaux property successfully passed rigorous testing protocols of a major silicon metal producer confirming that our material is highly suited for their silicon metal production.

Dr. Luc Duchesne


Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>

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  • Jack Lifton

    Disruption is unlikely in established well capitalized manufacturing. The real hope for those ventures offering to supply high-tech goods in volume is that their management and marketing teams are intelligent and perspicacious enough to see that they must enter the market by offering the same goods at lower prices. Their goods must be identical in quality and on time delivery to customer specifications at the agreed price. Even so it will take time to be approved as first an alternate supplier and then as the designated supplier. Thus sufficient capital and stick-to-it-iveness are the keys to success for “disruptive” technologies. Top scientists who are also top engineers are rare. Scientists will the skills to choose engineers and managers who can commercialize their dreams are rarer. LOOK AT THE SPECIFIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE MANUFACTURING MANAGERS AND ENGINEERS NOT AT THEIR CREDENTIALS!

    Jack Lifton

    October 11, 2016 - 1:34 PM

  • Brodeur

    What if HPQ does demonstrate cost and time efficiency? Basically ion any process improvement if steps can be combined or eliminated, cost and time will improve. The fact that most plants currently are geared to provide specific purity vs a range of purity based on market demand, being able to turn the dial to produce varying purity at will could be a bigger disruptor than just the combination of process for cost and time efficiency. Solar grade metal is huge, but so is 4N to 6N purity market.

    October 16, 2016 - 12:39 AM

  • Marcus Lemic

    @ J. Lifton
    Great comment, as always.

    If we consider Pyrogenesis as a successful manufacturer of the “sustaining technology and science ” and PureVap”suggested capex/opex” as probable, we have key ingredients for a potential “disruption”.
    For sure is will take the Capital, the “and stick-to-it-iveness” and achieving the next Milestones.

    Q: Do you envision that “solar panel” industry could make use of lower grade silicon(4N/5N) that would still respect low B & P levels, or 6N is really what the industry requires and is looking for?

    October 18, 2016 - 12:54 AM

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