SRI International licenses silicon process know-how in a technology transfer.
SRI International has confirmed the DIGITIMES report, SRI reportedly selects Muto for polysilicon technology transfer (subscription may be required), by Nuying Huang and Rodney Chan. SRI International said:
SRI has licensed its process for manufacturing low-cost solar grade silicon to several companies, one of which is Muto Silicon.
SRI emphasized the process know-how and extensive nature of their technology transfers.
Muto Silicon was founded by Yageo Corporation (TPE:2327) Honorary Chairman Wood M.Y. Chen as a separate enterprise. The Muto-Silicon Inc. (http://mutosilicon.woodchen.com.tw/) web landing page offers little more than the tease of:
Polysilicon for Solar Cell
1000 Tons per year in 2008
3000 Tons per year in 2009
5000 Tons per year in 2010
So what is the silicon production process technology SRI is licensing?
The sources pointed out that SRI uses the sodium reduction process to produce polysilicon.
In this 2006 post, Solar’s Silicon Shakeup, Red Herring said:
SRI International has developed and is looking to license its own low-cost technology that uses low levels of energy, according to Vice President Larry Dubois.
An online spreadsheet of SRI’s entire U.S. Patent Portfolio can be downloaded from the Intellectual Property and Licensing web page.
While SRI patents over twenty (20) years old involve the “PROCESS AND APPARATUS FOR OBTAINING SILICON FROM FLUOSILICIC ACID” or the reduction of silicon tetrafluoride (SiF4) with sodium, a newer patent published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) involves a Fluidized Bed Reactor with potential application to the production of electronic grade silicon.
(WO 2000/020111) FLUIDIZED BED REACTOR HAVING A CENTRALLY POSITIONED INTERNAL HEAT SOURCE
Regardless of the process technology, 2008 production of 1000 MT (metric tons) of polysilicon by Muto Silicon looks over optimistic unless construction is well underway.
I echo the sentiment of Is $25 Million Enough For Hoku? by Daniel Englander. Will this Hoku polysilicon plant ever happen?