Researchers at SSN College of Engineering Develop Technology to Manufacture High-Performance Solar Ingots – Potential to Help India Become Self Reliant in Solar Technology

Chennai: SSN College of Engineering, (the first initiative of the Shiv Nadar Foundation in the field of education, today announced that a team of its researchers led by Prof. P. Ramasamy, Dean (Research) have been awarded a grant of INR 12 crore by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India towards Directional Solidification (DS) technology that has the potential to catalyze India’s solar wafer and ingot manufacturing abilities. 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 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.

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% of solar cells and modules used in the country. This breakthrough research has the potential to enable the country to reduce its dependence on imports and become more self-reliant.

Dr. Kala Vijayakumar, President, SSN Institutions said, “At SSN it is our constant endeavour to encourage innovative ideas and research that can contribute towards finding solutions to issues of national and global importance. 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.”

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 optimize 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 Material Letters, an international journal for Science and Technology for Materials by Elsvier, as well as other prestigious journals.

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