SSN-COE Team Gets Rs 12 Cr Grant from DST for Solar Ingot Manufacturing Tech

Researchers at SSN-COE have been awarded a Rs 12 crore grant from the DST, for tech they believe can catalyse India’s solar ingot and wafer manufacturing abilities

SSN College of Engineering (SSN-COE), Chennai has announced that a team of its researchers led by Professor P. Ramasamy, Dean (Research) have been awarded a grant of Rs 12 crore by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, towards Directional Solidification (DS) technology that has the potential to catalyse India’s solar wafer and ingot manufacturing abilities. 

SSN-COE Solar Ingot Manufacturing Grant

Wafers and ingots are the building blocks for manufacturing solar cells and modules and are essential to India’s clean energy plans. Globally, solar wafer and ingot manufacturing is dominated by China followed by countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and S. Korea.

The research features an indigenously designed Directional Solidification (DS) technology system for growing high-performance multi-crystalline silicon ingots. This, the team believes, will aid the production of cost-effective, next-generation solar wafers and ingots and paves way for domestic manufacturing of large and better-quality silicon (mc-Si) ingot with enhanced efficiency of solar cells.

SSN-COE Solar Ingot Manufacturing Grant

Dr. Ramasamy, Dean (Research)

Dr. Ramasamy, Dean (Research), SSN College of Engineering, Chennai said, “multi-crystalline silicon is an important material used in production of low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells. Our indigenously designed Directional Solidification (DS) technology system will allow us to grow high-quality mc-Si ingots suitable for the fabrication of solar cells. We also aim to transfer this technology to industries to indigenously manufacture high-performance mc-Si solar cells, taking a crucial step towards an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”

The team designed and developed mathematical simulations to use on industrial Directional Solidification (DS) system to produce high-quality silicon (mc-Si) ingots. They studied – melt- crystal interface shape, impurities, and von mises stress under different temperature profiles to achieve better quality silicon (mc-Si) ingot. Further, transient global heat transfer model was used to optimise the temperature profile of the Directional Solidification (DS) process. It is the most efficient simulation to receive a slightly convex interface shape with lower thermal stress, and lower impurities in the silicon (mc-Si) ingot.

The research has been published in the journal Material Letters. SSN-COE Solar Ingot Manufacturing Grant 

Dr. Kala Vijayakumar, President, SSN Institutions said, “This research by our faculty has the potential to help our country realize its renewable energy goals and at the same time encourage local manufacturing to become more self-reliant.”

Currently, India has a domestic manufacturing capacity of only 3 GW for solar cells and is heavily dependent on imports to meet its requirements. In 2018-19 alone, India imported USD 2.16 billion worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, panels, and modules. Chinese companies dominate the Indian solar components market, supplying about 80 percent of solar cells and modules used in the country. This breakthrough research, the team claims, has the potential to enable the country to reduce its dependence on imports and become more self-reliant.

However, with the technology-focused on multi-crystalline cells, there is the issue of efficiency improvements to consider too. Keep in mind that global manufacturers have gone off multi-crystalline manufacturing, and even in India, mono PERC modules overtook multi-crystalline in 2020, according to some reports. Thus, any further investment into mc will be at a huge risk of investing in old technology.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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