Massachusetts-based 1366 Technologies has announced a series of new performance records for its kerfless, drop-in 156 mm multi-crystalline wafers, including a 19.1% result on an industrial line of Hanwha Q CELLS. The kerfless solar silicon production method eliminates a costly part of the solar silicon wafering process, namely, the wasted silicon saw dust that is part of the conventional ingot wafering step.

Hanwha has achieved an average cell efficiency of 19.0% at its headquarters in Germany using 1366’s Direct Wafer technology with Hanwha Q CELLSQ.ANTUM. The companies state these results have been independently tested and verified by Fraunhofer ISE. For those who are unclear about this methodology, the following video from 1366 Technologies helps explain some of the anticipated cost efficiencies from this manufacturing process.

The disruptive nature of the Direct Wafer process is not only evident in the cost and material savings it provides, but in its ability to break the technology limitations of conventional wafer manufacturing. The rapid and significant efficiency gains we’ve achieved will be further increased by new wafer features made possible only with our process,” said Frank van Mierlo, 1366 Technologies CEO in a press announcement.

According to the company, the 1366 team currently has a manufacturing hub of three operational furnaces at a demonstration facility in Bedford, MA. This means each furnace is capable of throughput in excess of 5 MW of wafers per yearon par with standard directional solidification furnaces, but requiring half the space and delivering a 60% reduction in energy consumption per wafer.

The company is targeting a first commercial-scale facility with 50 Direct Wafer furnaces, bringing production capacity to 250 MW of wafers per year.

Daniel Jeong, Global R&D chief at Hanwha Q CELLS, added this perspective: “These latest results demonstrate the potential in combining 1366´s Direct Wafer Technology with our unique Q.ANTUM technology. Together they can push the efficiency limits of multi-crystalline solar cell technology while at the same time reducing the cost significantly.”

1366 TechnologiesDirect Wafer process forms multi-crystalline wafers directly from molten silicon at an estimated price tag of half the cost.