CHE 432 Spring 2018
PRODUCTION OF SILICON PRECURSORS FOR SOLAR PV MANUFACTURING
Silane (SiH4), or the chemical class known as “silanes” (e.g. trichlorosilane) are precursors to
silicon used in semiconductors such as those found in solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. Although
PV cells offer a pathway towards clean, sustainable electricity, the silicon production process is
far from being environmentally benign.
As the solar PV market is growing exponentially, the demand for silane and related compounds
is expected to grow. Such growth should be moderated by factors of safety, cost, and
sustainability. In short, this project requires preliminary plant design of a silicon precursor from
a suitable feedstock (e.g. metallurgical grade silicon) as well as detailed design of a major piece
of equipment of your choice. The exact scope and deliverables will be negotiated with the
project manager based on the process path chosen. As a rough basis, assume the plant you are
designing will provide enough precursor to supply manufacturing of 20,000 metric tons of
polysilicon per year.
The deliverables for this project are as follows:
1. A draft Project Timeline is due by April 13th 5 PM on Canvas.
2. Project Proposal (specify a deadline in your Project Timeline, no later than Week 4):
• Determine which precursor (e.g. SiH4, SiHCl3) to make, and justify your choice.
Include as much economic justification as early in the project as possible.
• Carry out a literature review of relevant process pathways and either choose one, or
create your own. Justify your choice.
• Create a block diagram
3. Project Update (Presentation during Lab (TBD), Written Report due May 25th, 5 PM):
• Quantitative flowsheet of your process.
• Conceptual design of major piece of equipment
• Perform an economic analysis of the project
4. Final Report (Week 10, Final Report due June 13th, 2 PM on Canvas):
• Carry out detailed design of the reactor (or other major piece of equipment, e.g. a
reactive distillation column), including
o Detailed schematic
o Materials of construction
o Calculations pertaining to the sizing
o Specification of peripheral equipment (fittings, instrumentation, controls, etc.)
o A piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) for the unit op.
o A safety analysis (e.g. HAZOP) on the reactor.
• Summarize (and include) previous deliverables (literature review of process
pathways, PFD, economic analysis, etc).
• Recommend a path forward