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Raw material up-cycling for circular PV

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Ramp-PV (Raw material up-cycling for circular PV)

Reporting period: 2021-11-01 to 2022-10-31

Over the last 15 years, photovoltaics (PV) has recognized the highest Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR > 35%) among all the renewable energy sources, carrying the expectation to achieve 90% of the global decarbonization targets.

Circular economy is prerequisite for responsible production and sustainable deployment of PV!
However, at present, several high value raw materials composing PV modules, mainly silicon and silver, which are produced through high energy consuming and CO2 emission processes, suffer great value loss, because no valorization in end-of-life (EOL) PV modules is carried out. The proprietary technological innovations and industrial know-how of ROSI lead to a full valorization of the raw materials from PV-waste, including:
1. Reconditioning of silicon from PV-waste into targeted purity and morphologies for reintegration into various industries.
2. Non-destructive extraction of silver through non-toxic, low-cost (under moderate temperature and atmospheric pressure) process.

Ramp-PV project will contribute to the realization of world’s first industrial site on the revalorization of raw materials from end-of-life PV modules, carried out by ROSI.
Since the kick-off of the project Ramp-PV in November 2019, ROSI team has realized all the technical, commercial, and financial targets as described in the project, more specifically,
• Commercially, ROSI has secured the contract of recycling service with industrial partners, as well as the off takers for recycled raw materials;
• Technically, the planning and construction of the industrial site has been launched, and all the process integration, equipment automation, and material reintegration routes have been accomplished. All the equipment at the industrial scale have been dimensioned, ordered and delivered. Permit application has been granted.
• Financially, a fund-raising round has been successfully closed.
The impact of the present project is multi-dimensional:
• Boost the production of renewable energy: By reintegration of recovered raw materials with lower cost, the production of PV and PV energy will be fostered.
• Energy efficiency: In the production of key precursor gas for silicone, highly pure silicon, and optical fiber, the technologies proposed by ROSI make it possible to significantly increase the production efficiency from the existing technologies and installations significantly.
• Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: In 2021, ROSI carried out a first life cycle analysis of its recycling processes for photovoltaic panels. The estimated impact on climate change is 2 kgCO2eq avoided for 1 kg of recycled solar panel, thanks to the production of virgin raw materials avoided during the resale of recycled materials. When operating at 3,000 ton/year, the "Grenoble Center of Excellence" line will therefore avoid at least 6,000 ton CO2eq / year.
• Air quality: The silicon particle sizes contained in wafer sawing waste are micro/nanometric. The innovations of ROSI transform these particles into reusable granules or liquid (in the case of melting) which reduce 100% their pollution in air. Grinding is the mainstream technologies to recycle EOL PV modules today. It generates a large quantity of particles, which will be reduced to less than 1% by ROSI technologies.
• Water quality: The PV-waste treatment routes of ROSI avoid several water polluting sources,
o The recycling and reuse of sawing liquid, containing high organic content, in wafer sawing waste;
o The recycling of metals such as silver from EOL modules carried out through a wet-mechanical process avoiding the usual hydrometallurgical route which involves strong chemicals.
• Reduction of waste: Today, wafer sawing waste is 100% discarded. In the case of EOL PV modules, after recycling of aluminium frame, the Junction-box and some portion of the glass, the rest is not valorised. ROSI’s technologies allow for a complete revalorization of these waste.
• Consumption in natural resources: The consumption of natural resources including quartz, charcoal, and wood will be greatly reduced by reusing the recycled silicon.
• Preservation of biodiversity: As the production of silicon metal needs wood, with preference hard wood, it is of great benefit to the forest to avoid wood consumption, and save the associated bio-species.
• EU industrial leadership: PV installation is continuously breaking record in Europe (more than 30% annual market increase in the last years). It is ideal moment to restore EU industrial leadership by innovations, especially as the first continent to fulfil an entire circular economy.
• EU growth: A robust, competitive and responsible European green industry guarantees our sustainable growth in order to deliver long-term economic growth across the entire continent.
• Jobs for Europe: A Green industry contributes to the economic growth by creating jobs as well. By creating a whole new industrial branch based on innovations, PV recycling would create 150 000 new jobs by 2050.
Recycled silicon from ROSI process