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IMB Process Turns Scrap Silicon Wafers into Solar Cells  (Source: IBM)
IBM reclaims junk silicon for solar panels

We all use items every day that have components that start as silicon wafers – items ranging from our computers and cell phones to our digital cameras. What many don’t know is the sheer volume of silicon wafers that are started in production each day and end up being discarded.

IBM says these discarded wafers were traditionally ground up and thrown into landfills or melted down and resold because of the intellectual property on the wafers, which kept them from being able to be resold outside the company.

IBM announced today a new process that it invented to take discarded silicon wafers and reclaim them specifically to be sold to the solar cell manufacturing industry. The new reclamation process involves taking etched silicon wafers that are discarded and using a polish wheel/compound along with de-ionized water to remove all of the intellectual property from the surface of the wafer. The process does not damage the silicon underneath.

This new process is revolutionary won IBM the “2007 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award” from The National Pollution Prevention Program. IBM says that worldwide about 250,000 silicon wafers are started each day and that up to 3.3 percent of these wafers end up being discarded amounting to about three million discarded wafers each year.

In addition to merely saving the material and time used in the manufacturing of the reclaimed silicon wafers, IBM says that it sees an overall 90 percent energy savings because repurposing the scrap means IBM doesn’t have to manufacture as many new wafers to meet demands of its production process.

Companies that buy the repurposed wafers can save 30 to 90 percent of the energy normally needed if they used new silicon material as the source. Using this new process IBM was able to save more than $500,000 USD in 2006 and ongoing savings for 2007 will be near $1.5 million USD.

Solar panel manufacturers are also excited about this new process, "One of the challenges facing the solar industry is a severe shortage of silicon, which threatens to stall its rapid growth,” said Charles Bai, CFO of ReneSola, one of China's fastest growing solar energy companies. "This is why we have turned to reclaimed silicon materials sourced primarily from the semiconductor industry to supply the raw material our company needs to manufacture solar panels."

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I have a sneaking suspicion
By kileil on 10/30/2007 5:15:13 PM , Rating: 4
That this endeavor likely involves SCIENCE!!!


RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By Gul Westfale on 10/30/2007 5:49:11 PM , Rating: 1
no, it was all planned by god, last monday. really.

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By clovell on 10/30/2007 5:57:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I actually listened on that conference call - I remember Al Gore bringing up the idea.

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By Gul Westfale on 10/30/2007 7:13:25 PM , Rating: 3
so are you saying that this was al gore's idea? jesus f. christ man, first he invents the internet, then he saves us from manbearpig, and now this? quick, someone give this man a nobel prize! oh, wait...

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By Etsp on 10/30/2007 8:24:03 PM , Rating: 2
Now he just needs to save us from the manbearpig in our...imaginations!

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By quickk on 10/31/2007 10:09:35 AM , Rating: 5
What Al Gore said was:
During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the internet. [1]

His statement is completely justified considering he created and introduced the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, which led to the creation of a high speed fiber optic network and then the Mosaic web browser in 1993 [2].

Two internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn have said:

[A]s the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time. [3]

For a complete description, see this wiki page:

[1] [

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By Gul Westfale on 10/31/2007 11:21:42 PM , Rating: 2
kind of ironic, how the husband of tipper "PMRC" gore is associated with the creation of the greatest porno delivery system in the history of mankind.

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By quickk on 11/1/2007 3:30:02 PM , Rating: 2
I should of checked my links... To get the first link to work, remove the period at the end. The correct link should be:

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By Ringold on 10/30/2007 8:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
Gore talking to God?

No, I think you are recalling Brimstone Corp's Q4 call. A chorus of serpents hissed in pleasure as misery in Africa increased at an annual rate of 666% and energy costs rose for the 13th straight quarter; Gore suggested this tech would be a fantastic way to distract Brimstones competitors with false hope. ;)

Osama satellite phoned in near the end, promised more Jihad, but analysts were sceptical and guided down consensus estimated body counts for Q1 but remain upbeat on Darfur.

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By Gul Westfale on 10/30/2007 11:13:49 PM , Rating: 3
didn't know gore was a republican.


RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By quickk on 10/31/2007 10:16:24 AM , Rating: 4
You must be mistaken... I think that Bush has dibs on talking to God. In his own words:

God would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did, and then God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq... And I did. [1]

Some have speculated that it was actually Cheney on the intercom... [2]


RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By clovell on 10/31/2007 6:53:56 PM , Rating: 2
You must have missed the Q2 conference call, God doesn't do dibs anymore - I'l bet you can guess who brought up that idea...

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By wushuktl on 10/31/2007 7:19:00 AM , Rating: 2
Look at me still talking when there's science to do

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By geddarkstorm on 10/31/2007 12:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
...on the people who are still alive.

RE: I have a sneaking suspicion
By porkpie on 10/31/2007 10:17:44 AM , Rating: 2
That this endeavor likely involves SCIENCE!!!
Yeah, a bunch of guys standing around saying "too bad we can't recycle these wafers because of all the IP etched onto them". Then a light bulb goes off, and one of them says, "hey....why don't we SANDPAPER them down?"

Nice idea, but don't think that it took a huge amount of research and mathematical calculations.

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