Chinese Company to Introduce Natcore AR Equipment Into Their Solar Production Line
Red Bank, NJ — (March 22, 2011) — Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) has signed a letter of understanding to sell its first intelligent antireflective (AR) coating processing station to Hunan TLNZ Solar Technology Co. Ltd. (TLNZ) of Xiangtan, China.
Natcore believes its device will revolutionize the way that solar cells are made. It will replace the expensive and environmentally harmful chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method currently used by industry with a liquid phase deposition (LPD), or wet chemistry, process. Exclusively licensed from Rice University, the Natcore LPD process grows an AR coating on solar cells while reducing cost, environmental damage, and energy and raw material requirements.
Natcore began building its processing station on March 15. It is expected that completion of the first production phase will take eight to ten weeks. After extensive testing and adjustments, if necessary, the device will be shipped to TLNZ in China. The sale closing is contingent upon a successful test by TLNZ.
Late last year, Natcore sent several silicon wafers with AR coatings prepared by its researchers to TLNZ for finishing and testing. TLNZ analyzed the composition and quality of the Natcore-supplied films, added metal front and back contacts to the cells, and tested their efficiency. Cell efficiencies as high as 15% were measured for this first-ever test of Natcore’s AR coating technology using actual production solar cells. Importantly, the standard deviation of efficiencies for the entire batch of cells was within normal industry acceptance limits. The results demonstrate that Natcore’s LPD AR coating technology is completely compatible with standard silicon solar cell production methods and can be easily integrated into existing solar cell manufacturing facilities.
TLNZ also identified the process steps to be included in a commercial production system that would enable cells using Natcore’s AR coating technology to routinely reach or exceed 17% efficiency in production.
Natcore is designing its processing station in a modular fashion. Every processing station will have the ability to monitor the coating process throughout and to accurately measure the thickness of the AR coating on a wafer while it is submerged in a chemical bath. Beyond that, however, some will be fully automated, for example, or able to automatically recharge the bath in which the cells are coated. Others will be able to alter the composition and duration of the bath in order to produce cells with greater simplicity and a high degree of precision.
“We have designed this product so we can add and subtract components based on the needs of our customers” says Natcore President and CEO Chuck Provini. “This means that we can build machines across a wide range of complexity, capabilities and price and accommodate the specific needs of individual manufacturers. Some solar cell producers will want the fully automated version whereas others may prefer a version that involves a more manual process, because of availability of inexpensive labor.”
Hunan TLNZ Solar Technology Co., Ltd. is a high-tech solar energy enterprise with facilities covering 133,000 square meters and a total investment of 800 million Yuan (about US$122 million). The company has plans to expand from an intitial production rate of 25MW to 200 MW. Located in the Photovoltaic Industry Park within the Xiangtan State High and New Technology Development Area, Hunan Province, it stands as the first enterprise of its kind in the park. TLNZ is situated in the center of Changsha, Zhuzhou and Xiangtan economic development circle. Natcore has formed a joint venture in Zhuzhou to build its intelligent AR coating processing stations.
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