Posted: June 5, 2009

First Thin-Film Solar Module Factory Uses Linde's Award-Winning Fluorine Technology

(Nanowerk News) Delivering a major step forward in sustainable solar power, Malibu today launched the world’s first thin-film solar module factory that completely eliminates the use of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a greenhouse gas with a significant global warming potential, from the manufacturing process.
Working in close collaboration with researchers from technology provider Linde Gases, a division of The Linde Group, scientists at Malibu’s development centre in Bielefeld, Germany, have developed an improved cleaning process using on-site generated fluorine (F2) made with Linde’s patented technology. As a result, the carbon payback time – the time it takes the use of solar panels to offset the environmental impact of their manufacture – is reduced by up to one year. This improved process will now be rolled out to their new 40MW production facility in Osterweddingen, Germany.
Dean O’Connor, Head of Market Development & Technology at Linde Gases Division, said: “Linde and Malibu have clearly demonstrated their leadership and foresight in helping the thin-film PV industry to reach a watershed moment. Green energy will only be truly green when the entire supply and manufacturing chain works together to minimise environmental impact.”
According to Konrad Kaiser, General Manager Malibu, “Not only does the F2 cleaning process eliminate a major source of potential greenhouse gas emissions for our thin-film solar panels, it also speeds our processing and uses less material. This improves the overall sustainability of our product by reducing both environmental impact and manufacturing costs.”
In 2008, Linde and Malibu established their Joint Development Programme for the development of advanced material technology to improve cell efficiency, throughput and yield. F2 cleaning is the first of a number of material-based processes to emerge from their successful collaboration. NF3 and other fluorine compounds, such as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), are used to clean the process tools that make the important silicon photovoltaic layers in thin-film solar modules.
About The Linde Group
The Linde Gases Division, part of The Linde Group, is a leader in the international industrial and healthcare gases markets, providing compressed, bulk, specialty and medical gases, as well as chemicals to virtually all fields of industry globally. The company adds value to its customers’ businesses through the provision of state-of-the art application technology, process know-how, services and equipment.
The Linde Group is a world leading gases and engineering company with almost 52,000 employees working in around 100 countries worldwide. In the 2008 financial year it achieved sales of 12.7 billion euro. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards sustainable earnings-based growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment - in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. Linde is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.
About Malibu
Malibu is a joint venture between energy company E.ON, one of the world’s largest energy producers, and Schüco, a major worldwide provider of building envelope systems. E.ON is present in more than 30 markets worldwide, with 2008 sales of around EUR 87 billion and 94,000 employees. Schüco products include aluminium solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic modules for private homes. Their 5,500 employees around the world produced an annual turnover of EUR 2.2 billion in 2007, 690 million of which was in the solar division.
Source: Linde (press release)
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