Solar Expansion: 1366 Technologies Opens Silicon Wafer Plant in Bedford
The opening of a new manufacturing plant could bring 1366 Technologies a step closer to its goal of delivering 'Solar at the Cost of Coal' and position the company as an American leader in the competitive industry.
According to a company press release, the 42,000 square foot factory is slated to employ 100 people and “represents the final step in the path to commercialization of the company’s Direct Wafer technology,” which produces a better wafer at cheaper cost.
“A little more than five years ago, we set out to revolutionize the solar industry by solving the greatest manufacturing challenge in the biggest solar market,” Frank van Mierlo, chief executive officer of 1366 Technologies, said in remarks made around the plant’s opening last week. “Today, we’re one step closer to that goal and our mission to deliver solar at the cost of coal.”
According to the Globe’s report from the opening last week, the Bedford facility is “the first step in an investor- and government-finances growth plan for 1366 Technologies” and will test the company’s process for cutting the time and cost needed to make silicon wafers used in solar panels.
Reports the Globe:
Most manufacturers need four steps to make a wafer, but 1366 Technologies does it [in] one by shaping the components individually from molten silicon and setting the thin sheets inside a furnace.
As the Bedford facility comes online, the company expects is Direct Wafer production “to surge from thousands of wafers to millions” as 1366’s engineers and scientist fine tune the process for future replication.
“We not only have our footing, we’re growing, scaling and preparing to lead in the eventual global industry turnaround,” van Mierlo said in the press release. “We have momentum at our back and the essential elements of success: A great team, a truly disruptive technology, capital and strong partners.”
The Bedford facility is the first of two planned by 1366 Technologies. According to the company press release, 1366 will use its $150 million loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy to build a second, larger facility for which it will begin to search for a location this year.