The High Purity Quartz Advantage: “Exponential Growth” is Forecast
HPQ Silicon Resources Inc. (TSXV: HPQ) reported in May on the progress PyroGenesis Canada Inc. (“PyroGenesis”) from a recent progress report entitled “Update on The PUREVAPTM Process Characterization Testing #2″ pertaining to trials completed since their last technical press release in January 2017.
The goal of this project phase is to produce 5N (99.999% SiO2) at lab scale and perfecting the process techniques for the Pilot Plant.
The reports presented data from trials (tests) #37 to #74 aimed at increasing silicon yield at lab scale by continuously improving process parameter and implementing alternative purification routes while still using low purity feedstock.
The report confirmed that recent improvements to the PUREVAP™ process have resulted in a 62% improvement in the impurity removal capacity of the system. This outcome is based on third party laboratory results that comparing the total average impurities count of 856.6 ppm (99.91%) for the Silicon produced by trial (test) #24 completed prior the modification with the total impurity count result of 328.98 ppm (99.97%) for the Silicon produced by trial (test) #51 completed after, using the same low purity quartz feedstock with total impurity count of 18,900 ppm (98.14 % Silicon oxide).
The immense attraction of The PUREVAPTM Process is that it has potential to yield solar grade silicon at low capital and operating costs, which implies low energy and carbon footprints.
For silicon metal to be used in solar, the metal must be 99.9999% (6N) silicon. For comparison semiconductor applications require 99.999999999% (11N) purity.
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In May HPQ announced it has ordered a second phase of Process Characterization Testing from PyroGenesis Canada Inc. using a newly upgraded version of the lab scale PurevapTM Quartz Reduction Reactor (“QRR”).
PyroGenesis will run the program over the next months, leading up to the delivery of the Pilot Plant furnace, scheduled for October 2017. The objectives of these new metallurgical tests are multiple, and include generating and collecting data that can be used for the commercial scale-up of The PUREVAPTM Process, continue testing alternative purification routes and using higher purity feedstock (99.5% SiO2).
A new traditional 16 K TPY Solar Grade Si and/or Polysilicon plant requires investments between US$ 900M & US$ 1B but HPQ stated that Capex of a 10K Mt per year of solar grade Silicon and/or Polysilicon is roughly US$ 50 M, which is five percent (5 %) of the cost of current solar grade Silicon and Polysilicon industry Capex.
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 HPQ Silicon’s Roncevaux property successfully passed rigorous testing protocols of a major silicon metal producer confirming that the material is highly suited for their silicon metal production.
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>