1366 Technologies has opened a new 25 MW wafer manufacturing facility in Bedford, Massachusetts. The 42,000 square foot factory, slated to employ 100 people, represents the final step in the path to commercialization of the company’s process that produces a better wafer at half the cost.
The new factory is the heart of 1366’s R&D operation and the proving ground for Direct Wafer, which forms multicrystalline wafers directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive process. Within the next 12-18 months, Direct Wafer production will surge from thousands of wafers to millions, as the company’s team of engineers and scientists fine tune the process to where it can be easily transferred and replicated in future facilities.
During the past year, the company also achieved competitive cell efficiencies of 17 percent in customer trials and sharply reduced the variance in wafer product quality. “We are now squarely positioned to take advantage of what will be a 100 GW, $100 billion per year market in 2020,” said 1366 CEO Frank van Mierlo.
This Massachusetts facility is the first of two planned by the company. In September 2011, 1366 was awarded a $150 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), to build a second, 1,000 MW U.S. manufacturing facility that will create 300 permanent positions. The company expects to begin its search for a location this year.