EDITOR: | March 16th, 2016 | 5 Comments

Uragold: Study shows QVR process provides a 75% reduction in carbon footprint of solar wafers

| March 16, 2016 | 5 Comments

Uragold solarwafers(TSXV:UBR) announced the results of a study showing its PurevapTm Quartz Vaporization Reactor (QVR) process has a 75% lower life cycle carbon emission lower than standard technologies.

Uragold is a Quebec junior exploration company that has licensed plasma-based technology from a third party to transform its high purity quart deposits to tap into the lucrative market of Silicon and Polysilicon markets.

The study, which is an engineering analysis, shows a carbon footprint of 14.1 kgCO2 eq/kg SG Si for the Purevap QVR process vs 54 kgCO2 eq/kg SG Si for the standard Siemens process for manufacturing silicon wafer, which translates into a 73.888889 % reduction.

These results are encouraging for the company. They corroborate Uragold’s previous claims 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 ($ 1 B). In turn, Opex is expected at less than 70% of Opex to make solar grade Silicon and/or Polysilicon.

Uragold passed a significant Go/No-Go gate toward commercialization but the technology has yet scale up to the commercial level, a critical step that turns engineers’ hair into Obama gray at the best of times.

With an annual market of $US 6 B, the solar grade Silicon and Polysilicon market is growing at an annual rate of 6% and should double by 2020 to meet growing demand for solar energy.

Solar Grade Silicon sells for US$ 12,810 per Mt while Polysilicon sells for US$ 14,860 per Mt. The best in class producers show an average cash cost: US$ 10,000 to US$ 13,000 per Mt. We should expect that a reduced carbon footprint would permit a healthy margin or offer a disruptive breakthrough in the marketplace.

If commercially proven this kind of technology may bring down the cost of solar photovoltaic energy to grid parity in North America, a problem that has plagued the solar industry since its inception. Solar parity is the point in time where the cost of solar power is equivalent to the blended cost of power on the electrical distribution grid. If this is true, then this technology might have a significant effect on the global carbon footprint. For clarity, it would permit to deploy cost effective photovoltaic systems that would produce power at a cost equivalent to coal power generation as an example.

The core of the Uragold’s technology is protected in a patent application by PyroGenesis Canada Inc. (TSXV:PYR), which has granted Uragold a worldwide exclusive right to the usage of their PUREVAP™ Quartz Vaporization Reactor. The technology is based on the use of a plasma reactor within a vacuum furnace.

Uragold is the largest holder of distinct High Purity Quartz properties in Quebec, with over 3,500 Ha in claims. Despite the abundance of quartz, very few deposits are suitable for high purity applications. Quartz from its Roncevaux property in the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec successfully passed testing protocols by a major silicon metal producer confirming its suitability for Silicon metal production and offering an opportunity as feedstock for plasma transformation through the QTR process.

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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  • andy

    Dr. Duchesne, how do you see the technology? The question always is if it works, why didn’t anyone think of it before? Seems like a straightforward process.

    March 20, 2016 - 11:42 AM

  • Dr. Luc Duchesne

    Thanks for your question. I’m enthused by the small scale aspect of the plasma technology. For clarity, I’ve seen a comparable and successful approach in a small scale low temperature and low pressure plasma application in coal to energy projects. It looks like similar here. That’s what makes me bullish on the technology. Classical plasma technologies are huge high pressure and high temperature projects but Uragold’s approach seems to be operating at a much smaller scale. From what I’ve seen elsewhere it is possible. I’m excited for the potential for the photovoltaic sector, provided the scale up is done systematically.

    March 20, 2016 - 7:39 PM

  • Andy

    Thanks Dr. Luc. The technology comes from Pyrogenesis, which has contracts with the US military on chemical warfare and on submarines. From that, I would give them the benefit of the doubt that they have something with this collaboration with Uragold. Do you think such technology can turn any type of quartz into high purity using this technology, just based on the theoreticals, or the quartz itself needs to be of a certain purity before being made into the 6N and 9N polysilicon requird for solar and semiconductors?

    March 21, 2016 - 2:21 AM

  • Keith

    When you say “scale up systematically” would you consider the jump from lab sized reactor to 2000 mt/yr as they are planning, a systematic scaling?

    I assume pyrogenisis engineers were part of this decision to make the jump from a workbench sized reactor to warehouse size one. As you say it might be a feat that “turns an engineers hair into Obama grey”

    March 21, 2016 - 11:26 AM

  • Andy

    Dr. Luc, the testing has begun. Results should be in 2-4 weeks. Hopefully they are successful.

    April 6, 2016 - 9:23 AM

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