Silicon refining, crystallisation processes, module assembly... creating cells that make up photovoltaic panels and electronic circuits requires not only cutting-edge technology but also a large quantity of purified water. Veolia Water Technologies has the expertise needed to support all professionals in this sector.
Patented technologies for a water-intensive industry
Water treatment and recycling play a fundamental role in the manufacturing of electronic and photovoltaic devices. Only the appropriate consideration of these issues in specifications can guarantee the quality of the finished product at the end of the chain.
The creation of a photovoltaic module, for example, goes through several critical steps, including:
- The initial refining of silicon;
- Its crystallisation;
- The shaping of the plates.
In addition to large quantities of water injected during these preliminary phases, the resource also plays a critical role in the subsequent stages, that is:
- The creation of the cells;
- The final assembly of the modules.
The Veolia Group has been providing expertise to all industries for more than 80 years. Its subsidiary Veolia Water Technologies is now a key partner for many microelectronics and photovoltaic professionals around the world.
Some key figures
- 65 litres of purified water = the crystallisation and shaping of a 1 m² silicon wafer;
- 27 litres of water = the creation of a photovoltaic cell, measuring 156 x 156 mm;
- 34 litres of water = an assembly phase of 60 cells.
Source: HESPUL study, July 2009
Microelectronics, photovoltaics: why optimise the water cycle?
Filtration, heavy metals removal, decarbonisation of water, deionisation resin ... Veolia Water Technologies' numerous engineering solutions provide added value to the photovoltaic and microelectronics industries.
Direct benefits for your organisation may include:
- Limited energy consumption
The requirements linked to the energy transition, and simple budgetary considerations, make Veolia Water Technologies solutions very attractive. Our installations are energy efficient, and therefore enable, with no loss of quality of service:
- Distribution of the resource at the lowest cost.
- Chemical reagent reduction
The use of a clean and chemically pure industrial water:
- Limits the disturbances in the transformation process;
- Optimises the performance of reagents for each litre consumed.
- Water resource impact reduction
Veolia's technologies integrate the entire water cycle, from initial extraction to the various stages of water recycling, in accordance with the principles of a true circular economy. This allows industry professionals to save fresh water and optimise their daily consumption.
- By-product valuation
The manufacture of electronic and photovoltaic cells generates:
- The release of various effluents and volatile materials;
- Organic solvents;
- Chlorinated products;
- Fine dust;
- Fluorinated emissions.
Good water management practices enable the depollution of wastewater while finding value in rejected materials.
Innovative water recycling for diamond cable cutting
For an ultra-thin result, industrialists specialising in photovoltaic solar panel production often slice silicon ingots using a diamond wire and steel frame.
This powerful technology can pose various problems as regards:
- The water footprint;
- The recycling of heat transfer fluids;
- The prohibition of rejection without pretreatment.
Veolia Water Technologies' engineers have designed a new system that is compact, modular and specifically designed to treat these fluids without any chemical additives. This system makes it possible to recycle and reinject up to 80% of the heat transfer fluids efficiently into the circuit. This proportion can even increase to 90% by coupling the device with membrane processes for water treatment.
Benefit from local technical assistance
Like all other industries highly dependent on water as a resource, microelectronics and photovoltaic professionals can rely on the dense network of Veolia Water Technologies' local and regional agencies, benefitting from personalised support at all times. This covers:
- The design of the project up to its installation;
- Each stage from the initial training of users to after-sales service;
- Getting the most out of the installed equipment.
Flow rate configuration, distribution points, required power... water treatment equipment for the industrial sector is very flexible, enabling us to meet a wide variety of specifications, even for companies with tight investment budgets.
The creation of silicon photovoltaic cells or printed circuits generates significant water requirements. Optimising this resource through next generation technologies can help increase your trading margins.