Thursday, December 16, 2010

No. 213: Mass produce silicon from sand of Sahara (December 16, 2010)

Japan and North African countries decided to start joint research in Sahara to produce silicon using almost inexhaustible sand of Sahara. Tokyo University and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) agreed with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Algeria on the development project that extends to 2015. They already established a research organization for the project, and the research team is scheduled to open up the way for the technology in five years. They plan to mass produce silicon with a view to starting the generation business in the future. The expected technology changes oxide silicon contained in sand to silicon refined to higher than 99.9999% purity. Sahara’s sand hardly contains foreign particles, and is abundant in oxide silicon. As solar cells are spreading worldwide, there are concerns over the shortage of silicon. North African countries that place importance on photovoltaic generation as a promising industry in the future agreed with Japan on the necessity to develop the technology for future generation business in North Africa. JICA will invest 300 million yen. Besides Tokyo University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Hirosaki University, and National Institute for Materials Science will participate in the project.

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