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Relation of Vacuum Systems to Solar Cells

Courtesy of Oerlikon

Designing suitable vacuum solutions for solar cell manufacture is one of the great challenges to the manufacturers of vacuum pumps.

From silicon crystal pulling, to the production of solar cells, to the lamination of solar modules – these manufacturing processes are not possible without vacuum. Indifferent if crystalline or thin film coating is concerned - a tailor made vacuum solution is a key factor in photovoltaic production.

The production of solar cells requires careful matching of the vacuum system to the application in respect to the reliability, material compatibility and in most cases also safety; this is only possible through the reliance on carefully selected and flexible pump technologies. Comprehensive application knowhow and detailed process experience is always the key to the development of a successful vacuum solution. The complexity of these process challenges will increase further over the next years since production processes are subject to constant change and because there is a limited knowledge about the effects on the vacuum pumps on the part of the operator. Continuous product adaptation to changing process conditions is essential in order to reduce costs in the long-term and increase the reliability of the production systems.

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October, 2014

Biomethane for France: WELTEC Receives Order for Biogas Project with Gas Processing

French agriculture has a wealth of raw and waste materials that are suitable for biogas plants. However, only half of the available materials are presently used for energy production. Thus, ambitious development plans have been drawn up: By 2020, the biomass share in the field of renewable energies in France is to rise to about 50 percent.

No wonder that that the number of RFPs for plant projects for the generation of energy from biomass is on the rise. This affects the order pipeline of established biogas plant manufacturers like the German WELTEC BIOPOWER GmbH. Meanwhile, the project list includes about 30 French biogas plants. Some of these projects are rolled out in cooperation with Méthalac from Lyon, France.

This expertise was one of the reasons why WELTEC BIOPOWER and Méthalac received an order for a biogas project with gas processing in summer 2014. The plant in the north of the Franche-Comté region on the Swiss border will be completed in spring 2015, after which it is expected to supply biomethane to the French natural gas grid at a rate of 70 standard m³/h.

Thus, the plant stands witness to the increasing importance of the processing of biogas to biomethane. Though France only has five plants with gas feed-in, the population is growing, especially in view of the ample supply of biomaterials. This is also the case with the plant in Franche-Comté. The biomethane is processed from 6,000 t of agricultural waste, such as cattle manure, pig manure, intertillage and starch. These are digested in a stainless steel fermenter with a capacity of about 1,500 m³.

“To me, the tax advantage is a major argument in favour of a WELTEC plant“, says David Peterschmitt, the operator of the plant. He adds: “Bolted stainless steel containers are not included in the calculation of the cultivated area. In this way, the assessment base for the CFE land tax is reduced. This is a significant advantage over concrete containers.“

Based on the personal impression that he gained about the durability of established WELTEC plants during a visitto Germany, the builder drawsattentionto another positive aspect:“The tax advantage would evaporate if the maintenance costs were high. Accordingly, the condition of the two inspected biogas plants built in 2003 and 2010 convinced me of the longevity of stainless steel as a material and confirmed by decision to work with WELTEC.“

Together with Biogaz Services from Metz-Tessy, Méthalac will be responsible, not only for the installation and commissioning, but also for the maintenance of the WELTEC biogas plants. The team boasts a wealth of experience, especially in connection with the employed WELTEC material, and will ensure perpetually stable, economic operation. Once word gets around about the pros of biogas and biomethane plants, the French will succeed in making consistent use of their wealth of raw materials.


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